Game 108: Astros (35-70) @ Orioles (59-48), 7:05

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
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At one time it looked like the Orioles were going to do nothing at the trading deadline. Then, suddenly, Bud Norris. He won't even be pitching tonight, and it's not yet known when he'll make his first Orioles start, but one consequence of his arrival is that L.J. Hoes has gone from batting ninth in the Orioles lineup for tonight's game to batting second in the Astros lineup. Though he has changed teams, Hoes will remain in the same area code at least until tomorrow, when Houston leaves town.

Originally, the scheduled Astros starter was former Oriole Erik Bedard, but he's been scratched for reasons unknown. He wasn't traded. Instead, the starter will be Brett Oberholtzer, who is that most dreaded species for the Orioles: the random emergency lefty replacement starter. He has a 7.36 ERA in a total of 7.1 innings pitched this season, all in relief. This is his first major league start. He was an 8th-round pick in 2008 who came to the Houston organization in the Michael Bourn trade.

Oberholtzer is not a top prospect. He is a dude filling in to make a start for a team that on this season has lost twice as many games as it has won up until this point. When a team has played 105 games, that is really saying something. Now that Norris has been traded, the highest-paid player on the team's active roster is Bedard, who is making $1.15M. Nick Markakis may be making nearly as much this season by himself as is the entire 25-man Astros roster for tonight's game combined.

This is the dude you need to beat and this is a game you need to win. There can be no flukes and no weird losses, not against the bottom-feeding Astros. They rebounded from Wei-Yin Chen's one bad inning last night to pull off a one-run win, but this one shouldn't even need to be close. They traded away one of their few decent hitters in Justin Maxwell. They have a putrid lineup and pitching staff. Their future may be bright, but their present is not. Their immediate present, like the next two days, should be especially not-bright if the Orioles do what they are supposed to do and beat a terrible baseball team at home.

They are not out of the AL East race, but they need to win to gain ground. The race for the wild card is all bunched up. They need to win to get a cushion for at least another shot at a one-game playoff. Just win, baby.


BALTIMORE ORIOLES HOUSTON ASTROS
Nate McLouth - LF Jonathan Villar - SS
Manny Machado - 3B L.J. Hoes - RF
Nick Markakis - RF Jose Altuve - 2B
Adam Jones - CF Jason Castro - C
Chris Davis - 1B Chris Carter - DH
Matt Wieters - C Brett Wallace - 1B
J.J. Hardy - SS Brandon Barnes - CF
Brian Roberts - 2B Matt Dominguez - 3B
Steve Pearce - DH Robbie Grossman - LF

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