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Game 128: Orioles (50-77) @ Twins (55-74), 1:10pm

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In a better world, or at least a movie version of one, this is the part where the Orioles would launch into a completely improbable 20-game winning streak, ascending from the pack into wholly unpredicted contention. The sudden domination would have no rational explanation, but we, as fans, would know exactly why it happened. We are not in that movie, though, and even that hypothetical miracle of a 20-game winning streak wouldn't pull the O's up above .500. But if they do win today and pull off this sweep of the Twins, then at least we can keep dreaming a little bit - not of the playoffs, of course, but a wildly unlikely rise up to some semblance of respectability. Stranger things have happened.

Here's the thing about reality versus the movies. In the movie version, they don't have to show the part of the montage where your fifth starter is Jo-Jo Reyes and 20% of the wins have to happen in games where he's pitching. This is like throwing down the gauntlet to whatever divine beings may be observing the insignificant happenings in our segment of the mortal coil and looking to capriciously influence it for their own purposes. It's like: you wanna show us something? Fine, here you go. It's our crappiest starter taking the mound on the closest thing to a must-win game that a team way out of contention can ever get. Show us what you got, homes.

Things would look a lot less hopeful if we were up against the 2010 version of Francisco Liriano, but he's not having a very good 2011. Liriano's got a 4.85 ERA. I've been kind of surprised how bad the stats of these Minnesota starters have looked in this series. What is Liriano's problem? Something to do with the 4.85 BB/9, I would guess. That's 70 walks in 130 IP. That is a worse walk rate than all but one O's pitcher, and you can imagine who that is. There is the problem of Liriano being left-handed, but we've already beaten one lefty in this series, so...

The other challenging here is that the forfeit lineup is being deployed. Adam Jones, who has come out of the past two games early, has the day off, Craig Tatum is behind the dish, and Matt Angle, still in search of his first MLB hit, will be patrolling center field.

Win this one for Flanny, fellas. That is not a request.