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GameThread: Orioles (62-95) @ Rays (94-63), 7:10pm

I feel kind of like the usual August swoon struck Birdland, only it took until the end of September to do so. I guess that's pretty good. It was a nice ride, but the Toronto and then Tampa trips just seem to have taken the wind out of our sails. It doesn't help that the Orioles were on the wrong end last night as the Rays clinched the playoff berth and got to celebrate.

Still, they have a chance to win this series tonight if they get a victory. To do that, they'll need to overcome the fact that Kevin Millwood is starting tonight. I've tried to muster some enthusiasm when he's started in the past, but I just can't. The Orioles are paying him $9 million for a 5.29 ERA with a 1.54 WHIP. He's given up 30 homers. He is what he is, and I just don't want to see him any more.

On the plus side for the O's, tonight's Rays starter is Jeff Niemann, and he's spent the last month getting obliterated from coast to coast. He had an 11.74 August ERA and has a 9.18 September ERA. Ty Wigginton has two home runs off Niemann in 9 plate appearances, so we'll probably see him tonight. Brian Roberts also has a pair of homers and Nick Markakis and Matt Wieters have good numbers against Niemann. Hopefully that's a recipe for a lot of offense, because with Millwood pitching, they'll surely need it.

There will probably be more fans than usual at this game, because the Rays gave away 20,000 free tickets to tonight's game. Why didn't they do that yesterday for the possible clincher? I guess they decided they needed a day to advertise. The fans who take advantage of the free seats will probably be treated to some fireworks, unless, of course, the two pitchers with terrible stat lines both decide to not suck tonight. If the Orioles had 94 wins, I don't think there would be even 2,000 tickets to give away - and probably most of the empties would be in the club level.

The O's need to win one of their last five games to avoid a 100-loss season. I kinda hope it's tonight just so we can get it over with, but I can't feel optimistic with Millwood out there. Ah well. I should believe in miracles, right? Go O's!


Baltimore Orioles @ Tampa Bay Rays

09/29/10 7:10 PM EDT

Baltimore Orioles Tampa Bay Rays
Corey Patterson - LF John Jaso - C
Ty Wigginton - 3B Ben Zobrist - 2B
Nick Markakis - DH Carl Crawford - LF
Luke Scott - 1B Dan Johnson - 3B
Matt Wieters - C Carlos Pena - 1B
Adam Jones - CF Matt Joyce - RF
Felix Pie - RF B.J. Upton - CF
Robert Andino - 2B Brad Hawpe - DH
Cesar Izturis - SS Jason Bartlett - SS