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Game 81: Orioles (35-45) @ Braves (49-35), 1:35pm

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This game represents the last game in the first half of the season in absolute numerical terms. As such, there is a lot at stake, because if the Orioles win they'll be on pace for 72 wins and if they lose they'll be on pace for 92 losses. Also, after a five game losing streak it would be nice if they won a game just on general principle. To what extent this is actually a possibility is not within my capability to predict. It's not very easy to be optimistic right now though.

Here's maybe the one shining thing to take into today's game: it's Zach Britton Day. In terms of ERA, Zach's been the best of the Orioles starters on the year. Not bad for a rookie to be approaching the halfway point with a 3.38 ERA. We would probably be more happy with a rotation full of pitchers who had Britton's stats to this point. Maybe a few more strikeouts. That would be good. The Fourth of July weekend may not be the best time to tout fascist strikeouts, but you know, with the guys in the field this year (J.J. Hardy and Matt Wieters excepted) I think a little strikeout-fascism might be just what we could use.

It's a day game after a night game, so that means we get a Craig Tatum appearance. But other than that the lineup's no more or less a forfeit lineup than any other game against a right-handed starter. Yes, Luke Scott is playing again even with that disaster last night - although to be fair, Buck has shown for several players that he feels getting them right back in there is important. That's fair enough, actually - at least for this one game. But why was Scott playing last night to begin with? Why is Nolan Reimold rotting on the bench? I don't want to be a broken record here, but it's really frustrating and I feel like I need to keep banging the drum until the situation changes.

One good thing about the lineup today is that Mark Reynolds is our cleanup hitter. This change should have probably been made weeks ago. Of course, we know it'll only last for this one game, since Vlad will be back in the lineup as the DH and cleanup hitter tomorrow. This is the final interleague game of the season.

Our old friend the backup second baseman is in the Atlanta lineup. Given how things are going for the O's this season, I would not even be the least bit surprised if he hits a grand slam today.