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Saturday afternoon Orioles game thread: at Indians, 4:05

The Orioles quest for the worst record in team history continues on Saturday with another game in Cleveland. Alex Cobb looks to keep a string of solid starts going.

Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles
Alex Cobb has pitched well since the All-Star break. Maybe that will continue.
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Whatever happens today, the Orioles cannot be mathematically eliminated from postseason contention. Their time is coming, though, with a tragic number (combined O’s losses and Athletics wins) down to just four. Today will not be the day, but tomorrow might be.

Looking to do his part to stave off the grim fate of being officially out of the race in mid-August will be Alex Cobb in this afternoon’s contest against the Indians. Cobb had a rather brutal beginning to the season but has been pitching better since about a month ago, with a 2.17 ERA over his last six starts. Never mind that the Orioles lost five of those six games. It’s not Cobb’s fault the offense stinks.

And speaking of that offense, of course it stinks. Just look at it:

  1. Cedric Mullins - CF
  2. Jonathan Villar - 2B
  3. Trey Mancini - LF
  4. Mark Trumbo - DH
  5. Chris Davis - 1B
  6. Renato Núñez - 3B
  7. Tim Beckham - SS
  8. Craig Gentry - RF
  9. Austin Wynns - C

Among the many fundamental axioms of modern baseball thinking, two relate to lineups in particular. One is that there is an optimal way to do a lineup, and another is that it doesn’t really matter all that much. This second one is true, so getting worked up about, say, Davis continuing to bat fifth isn’t worth the trouble. But it’s annoying, though.

A rule that shouldn’t even need to be made is, “Don’t bat a .164/.245/.309 hitter fifth.” This should be automatic, especially for a team that is heading into a rebuilding mode and has a logjam at first base/designated hitter that’s forcing a third first baseman out to left field and in turn forcing actual outfield prospects to remain in Norfolk longer than they should.

Buck Showalter’s inability to really grapple with the evaporation of Davis’s capability to play MLB-caliber baseball might be the biggest reason to want to part ways with him at season’s end. Unless, of course, the Orioles are actively trying to lose in order to get the #1 draft pick next year. They are one game ahead of the Royals in that race with 40 games to play. The Royals are in action against the White Sox tonight.

The Indians lineup, full of guys who are definitely better than the Orioles lineup:

  1. Francisco Lindor - SS
  2. Michael Brantley - LF
  3. Jose Ramirez - 3B
  4. Yandy Diaz - DH
  5. Yonder Alonso - 1B
  6. Melky Cabrera - RF
  7. Jason Kipnis - 2B
  8. Yan Gomes - C
  9. Greg Allen - RF

Starting for Cleveland is Adam Plutko, a 26-year-old righty who will be making his seventh ever big league start. He’s been called up to make this start today, having last pitched in the big leagues with a July 29 relief appearance. I think we all know what to expect here: Plutkownage.