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Game 125: Orioles (47-77) @ Twins (55-71), 8:10pm

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With a four-game series against the Twins coming up, let's take a look in on our friends at Twinkie Town, whom, it seems, are having some shortstop problems. I bet somebody's wishing they had J.J. Hardy right about now.

As has been mentioned ad nauseum, this series represents the final games that the Orioles will play against teams that currently have sub-.500 records. It's a pretty astounding number, which is probably why it keeps getting mentioned. It's the kind of thing that makes you wonder if the 2011 O's will manage to best (worst) the 4-32 finish from the 2002 season. After watching that weekend series against LAAAOCCAUSAESMW, a bigger question might be whether the team will win another game for the remainder of the season. Even one feels like a miracle at this point.

Perhaps another team in the midst of a disappointing season will be just what hits the spot. It's a tough year for the Twins, who had visions of contending and weren't even able to seize the initiative in what's turning out to be a weak year for the AL Central. Division-leading Detroit would be in 4th in the AL East. The Twins are 16 games below .500 and 13 games out of the division lead. Compare that to the Orioles, who - actually, don't.

Carl Pavano is pitching tonight for Minnesota. I have never been able to take him seriously ever since he spent significant time during his failed Yankee contract on the DL due to a strained buttock. He's sporting a 4.52 ERA in 2011, which is pretty bad, but at least he's averaging about 6.2 IP per start. Also, that terrible-looking ERA? Yeah, he would be the #1 starter on the O's. I swear I don't sit down and try to be depressing in these things. The facts are all depressing.

For the O's, it's Zach Britton's return from the DL. He was dealing with inflammation in his shoulder. Presumably, that inflammation has now cleared up after a couple of weeks on the DL. All we can hope is that Britton coming off the DL goes better than when Matusz did the same. The O's are 17-46 since June 10. We know better than to give in to the folly of hope.

Maybe they can just settle for a run-of-the-mill loss today, one that doesn't make you embarrassed to be an Orioles fan. That would be a step in the right direction.