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Orioles, Reds lineups and probable pitchers for Thursday night

The Orioles go for the sweep against the Reds on Thursday night. Chris Tillman is on the mound for Baltimore, with Mike Leake starting for Cincinnati.

Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

This was a trap series for the Orioles. They have done well to win the first two games. I think we all know the pre-2012 Orioles would not have won that Tuesday game. Two out of three ain't bad, but three out of three is even better. They go for the sweep of the Reds tonight.

The magic number starts the day at 16. If the Orioles win and the Yankees lose, the magic number would then be 14. New York plays Boston at home. The starting pitchers in that game are Brandon Workman for Boston and Chris Capuano for the Yankees.

If the Yankees lose and the Blue Jays win, the Orioles magic number would shift to the Blue Jays instead, starting from 15. Toronto is in the Trop tonight. The steady Mark Buehrle pitches for the Jays, with Jake Odorizzi taking the carpet for the Rays.


RHP Mike Leake, Reds
2014: 28 GS, 186.1 IP, 3.33 ERA, 141 SO, 42 BB, .258 BAA, 1.22 WHIP
Last start (at Pirates): 7 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO

Leake had himself a good August with a 2.56 ERA over six starts. Six of his last seven starts have been quality starts. You know what they say about arbitrary endpoints? Well, that was one, because the three starts before that were not quality. So really six of his last ten starts were quality. That's still pretty good. 17 of 28 starts on the year were quality also - which is good, too.

A ground ball rate of 54.2% is just impressive. That's what Leake has gotten this year. He's been in the upper 40% range for most of his career, so it's no surprise. Most nights I joke in this space about expecting a no-hitter, but Leake should be a tough matchup for these Orioles... unless he makes mistakes and gives up home run balls. Batters have hit 17 off of him this season.

RHP Chris Tillman, Orioles
2014: 29 GS, 176.2 IP, 3.36 ERA, 122 SO, 59 BB, .231 BAA, 1.22 WHIP
Last start (vs. Twins): 5 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 SO

Tillman's quest for another 200 IP season continues. It looked unlikely once, but if he makes another four starts this year he'll only need to average 6 innings per start, and he can even get a 5.1 once. Tillman is fully capable of going six innings per start, although he's also fully capable of getting bounced after an inning if he's really not on the top of his game.

Luckily for him, the Reds offense isn't very good. They've only got a .664 OPS on the year, which is second-worst in the NL behind only the truly moribund Padres. On the other hand, the homer-prone Tillman is due, as he hasn't allowed a home run in his last two starts.

Today's Lineups

Jason Bourgeois - CF Nick Markakis - RF
Ramon Santiago - 2B Alejandro De Aza - LF
Todd Frazier - 3B Adam Jones - CF
Devin Mesoraco - DH Nelson Cruz - DH
Donald Lutz - LF Chris Davis - 1B
Yorman Rodriguez - RF J.J. Hardy - SS
Jack Hannahan - 1B Kelly Johnson - 3B
Jake Elmore - SS Nick Hundley - C
Tucker Barnhart - C Jonathan Schoop - 2B
Mike Leake - RHP Chris Tillman - RHP