This is it, people. This is the game. No, actually it's me being dramatic, but this game between the Orioles and Tigers, who are now tied for the second wild card spot, with the Yankees a mere one game behind them, is really important with just 22 games to go, and certainly very important for their place in the standings right now.
Is it a must-win? No, it's not a must-win, but if they don't win this one it probably makes two more must-win games later. There will very soon come a time where they absolutely must win. If they lose enough games, there will come a time where every game is quite literally must win.
And deployed on this very important game is Ubaldo Jimenez, coming fresh off his complete game against the Rays. The Rays are decidedly not the Tigers - and by the way, the Yankees are playing those downtrodden Rays this weekend. It'll be harder facing a lineup where Miguel Cabrera is the first baseman than one where Brad Miller or Logan Morrison is the first baseman. Those guys are on the Rays for a reason. No good team wants them. Cabrera and the two Martinezes are a much tougher task.
Not that the Orioles are, themselves, slouches. And they won't be facing the cream of the Tigers rotation tonight. Jordan Zimmermann is sitting on a 4.44 ERA for the season and he has pitched in over a month. Justin Verlander awaits tomorrow - and not the disappointing Verlander of recent seasons, but a version of Verlander who is, if not the Cy Young winner of five years ago, pretty dang good.
All of which is to say, again, this is a game the Orioles really, really gotta win to at least get one game out of this series.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||DETROIT TIGERS|
|Adam Jones - CF||Ian Kinsler - 2B|
|Jonathan Schoop - 2B||Cameron Maybin - CF|
|Manny Machado - 3B||Miguel Cabrera - 1B|
|Chris Davis - 1B||Victor Martinez - DH|
|Mark Trumbo - RF||J.D. Martinez - RF|
|Steve Pearce - LF||Justin Upton - LF|
|Pedro Alvarez - DH||Jarrod Saltalamacchia - C|
|Matt Wieters - C||Erick Aybar - 3B|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Jose Iglesias - SS|
|Ubaldo Jimenez - RHP||Jordan Zimmermann - RHP|