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GameThread: Orioles (51-73) @ Twins (61-63), 8:10 PM EDT

This series is the last time the Orioles will ever play in the Metrodome, as next year the Twins move to their brand new outdoor stadium. The Metrodome opened in 1982 and the Orioles record there is 63-71. I certainly won't miss the Metrodome as it's just hideous, but I'm always a tiny bit bummed when a ballpark closes that I've never been to.

The Twins are another AL Central team still clinging to playoff hopes. Currently 4.5 games out of first and two games behind the Tigers, they're probably hoping to take advantage of the last place Orioles and gain some ground. If they do somehow manage to get to the playoffs they're toast as their starting pitching just won't cut it and their record against the AL East and AL West is 22-37.

Tonight is a good night because Chris Tillman is pitching. Chris' last three outings have been strong but if there is one thing I hope he can do tonight it's avoid the home run. He's given up 9 in his 5 big league starts this year which is just ridiculous. He tends to leave pitches up in the zone and right down the middle of the plate which is asking for trouble, especially when pitching to guys like Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau.

Scott Baker makes the start for the Twins, and he's better than his ERA indicates. All of his "per 9" stats, which are my favorites, are pretty good. He hardly walks anyone, his K rate is pretty good, and his K/BB is over 4. He only allows 8.8 H/9. All of those stats are better this year for him than they were last year when he had a much lower ERA. He's been victim of the HR this year, giving up 22 which is 5th most in the AL.

2009 - Chris Tillman 1-1 4.80 1.43 17 11

2009 - Scott Baker 11-7 4.62 1.17 120 29

O's to watch:

  • Brian Roberts: He's batting .400/.459/.836 with 9 2B, 5 HR, and 6 SB/0 CS in the last 14 days. He's sitting on 47 doubles so could reach 50 this series.
  • Nolan Reimold: Over the past two weeks Nolan has 4 2B, 2 3B, and 2 HR to go with his .976 OPS.
  • Nick Markakis: Nicky isn't walking as much as we're used to, which is disconcerting, but his OBP hasn't suffered too much since he's batting .358 over the past month.
  • Felix Pie: With Adam Jones day-to-day, Felix gets another chance to shine. He's gotten into 12 games over the last 14 days and hasn't let the O's down with 10 hits in 28 AB including a double, a triple, and 2 HR. He's raised his OBP on the season to .316 when on August 12th it was just .295.

Twins to watch:

  • Joe Mauer: It seems that Mauer didn't much appreciate when people called Matt Wieters "Mauer with power" so he turned it up and has hit 25 HR this year. He's only had double digit HR one other year and that was 13 in '06. He currently leads the league in batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. Without looking it up to check, I'd say he's having one of the best years ever for a catcher.
  • Justin Morneau: Morneau is having another great year but has been slumping in the past month, hitting just .206/.308/.338. His BABIP in that time is a very low .211, and I'd imagine he'll come out of it soon enough. He has 28 HR on the year but only 2 of them have come in the past month.
  • Michael Cuddyer: He's been a steady player for years and is even better this year. Another Twin with over 20 HR, he's been hot over the past 7 days with 3 HR and 2 2B.