Another golden opportunity presents itself to the Orioles, right here, in this latest game of ultimate destiny. With the Blue Jays already having lost to the Rays on Wednesday afternoon, the Orioles have the opportunity to both pull ahead of Toronto by a game - sole possession of the home wild card spot - and within one game of Boston for the AL East lead with 17 games remaining. That's what they have a chance to do, if they win tonight's game.
It will not be easy. The Red Sox are a good team, loathe as I will ever be to admit that fact for any reason. They are where they are in the standings for a reason. And part of why they are where they are is Rick Porcello, who, as the AL's only 20-win pitcher at this moment, may well be the favorite for the AL Cy Young award. Porcello has been no slouch. If he pitches 6.1 innings tonight he'll cross 200 IP for the year, and in those innings he has a 1.022 WHIP - which, for an AL starter, is really quite good.
There has only been one single game all season where Porcello has allowed more than four earned runs. The good news for the Orioles is that game came against the O's, back in early June in Baltimore. That's the only time Porcello has faced the Orioles this year. It'll be a different story in mid-September in Fenway with the postseason chase in full swing, but it's something.
They need all the help they can get, including from Evil Goatee Kevin Gausman, who's starting tonight for the O's. Gausman on the road was bad for much of the year, but now he's had a quality start in three of his last four road games and finally broke that whole "winless on the road" thing back on August 28.
The lights don't turn out on the Orioles if they lose tonight, but if they win, they're going to get a whole lot brighter. This is a big game.
Out-of-town scoreboard watch: Root for the Dodgers against the Yankees (game already underway), Twins against the Tigers, and Angels against the Mariners.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||BOSTON RED SOX|
|Adam Jones - CF||Dustin Pedroia - 2B|
|Michael Bourn - RF||Xander Bogaerts - SS|
|Manny Machado - 3B||David Ortiz - DH|
|Chris Davis - 1B||Mookie Betts - RF|
|Mark Trumbo - DH||Hanley Ramirez - 1B|
|Jonathan Schoop - 2B||Travis Shaw - 3B|
|Matt Wieters - C||Chris Young - LF|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Sandy Leon - C|
|Ryan Flaherty - LF||Jackie Bradley - CF|
|Kevin Gausman - RHP||Rick Porcello - RHP|