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Game 124: Orioles (67-56) @ Rangers (71-51), 8:05pm

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OK, Tommy Hunter, you know the drill: pretty pretty please, don't suck.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
OK, Tommy Hunter, you know the drill: pretty pretty please, don't suck. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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No big deal or anything, guys, but if you missed the post about it earlier, HOLY CRAP THE ORIOLES WILL BE SELLING PLAYOFF TICKETS. Ah, but there's a long way to go for any of us to actually get to use any of them we might manage to acquire! There are fewer than 40 games left in the season, which is not a lot, except it is a lot when you consider the margin at play is half a game. Then there is the outside chance of catching the Yankees, if everyone on their team keeps getting hurt, or if they should find one of their curiously resurgent old dudes getting popped for PEDs.

But we can only dream of these things if the Orioles win games to separate from the pack. And to do that they are going to have to beat good teams, many of whom they need to either beat or pass to get into the playoffs. So here we are in the rubber game of a series against Texas, a team they could face in a hypothetical postseason series, if they made it that far. That would be the same Texas that has outscored the O's by 23 runs over six games played. That is awful. On the other hand, we saw last night it's not impossible for the O's to beat the Rangers, if they get a good outing from their starter and if their offense can score.

And start tonight's game is... Tommy Hunter. Did it have to be him? I guess it did. If there was a hurler I would want to see less against Texas than him... actually, there are at least a couple I could name and they're stinking it up in Norfolk after having been banished there. Hunter is the best option for the rotation. We have to accept this. The last game he pitched was against Detroit and even though he ended up on the losing end, it was a quality start, the bare minimum, six innings, three earned runs, which we would take from Hunter every time he pitched if it was offered. Maybe tonight he can minimize the damage against Texas also - keep the home runs to when the bases are empty, for instance.

The good news for Orioles fans is that his opposite number tonight is Texas starter Derek Holland, who gives up a lot of home runs. 23 homers in 121 innings! That's a lot. Fewer than Hunter. Holland is left-handed, so Chris Davis is on the bench. That's probably a good thing. The best we can hope for is that Holland will get bombed harder than anyone has seen since Operation Market Garden, because with Hunter on the mound, the O's will need the runs.

Speaking of starting pitching matchups, tonight New York will send Phil Hughes against Chicago's Chris Sale. The opportunity may be there to steal another game back - if Hunter and the O's can seize the chance.


Lineup

BALTIMORE ORIOLES TEXAS RANGERS
Nick Markakis - RF Ian Kinsler - 2B
J.J. Hardy - SS Elvis Andrus - SS
Adam Jones - CF Josh Hamilton - CF
Matt Wieters - C Adrian Beltre - 3B
Mark Reynolds - 1B Nelson Cruz - RF
Lew Ford - DH Michael Young - DH
Nate McLouth - LF David Murphy - LF
Manny Machado - 3B Geovany Soto - C
Robert Andino - 2B Mitch Moreland - 1B