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Wednesday night Orioles game thread: vs. Braves, 7:35

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The Orioles, five games back of a playoff spot and fading, hope to win the series against the Braves in tonight’s rubber game.

MLB: New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

The Orioles aren’t yet mathematically eliminated from postseason contention. But they’re just about there.

After last night’s defeat, their sixth in their last seven games, the O’s have precious little time to make up a huge gap. They’re currently five games behind Cleveland for the eighth and final playoff seed, and while the Indians have lost seven in a row, it seems extremely unlikely they’ll continue to crash long enough for the Birds to catch them (and that’s if the O’s can even win five more games this year, with some tough opponents on the upcoming schedule). The Orioles would also have to leapfrog the Mariners and Tigers to get there.

So, yeah. It’s not happening.

These final 12 games of the season for the Orioles will mainly be about evaluating their youngsters, including tonight’s starter, Keegan Akin. The rookie lefty, after two solid starts to begin his MLB career, failed to get out of the first inning in his last outing against the Yankees. It’ll be interesting to see how well he can bounce back from his first rough big league start while facing a tough Braves lineup.

Akin will be opposed by veteran lefty Cole Hamels, who is making his Braves debut with less than two weeks left in the season. Better late than never, I suppose. Atlanta signed the four-time All-Star to a one-year, $18 million contract last December, but he’s been on the shelf all year with left triceps tendinitis. Hamels will probably be on a pitch count tonight, so perhaps the O’s can make him work and get him out of the game early.

Orioles lineup:

3B Hanser Alberto
SS Jose Iglesias
LF Ryan Mountcastle
C Pedro Severino
DH Renato Nunez
RF DJ Stewart
1B Pat Valaika
CF Austin Hays
2B Andrew Velazquez

LHP Keegan Akin

Braves lineup:

CF Ronald Acuna Jr.
1B Freddie Freeman
LF Marcell Ozuna
DH Travis d’Arnaud
SS Dansby Swanson
RF Adam Duvall
3B Austin Riley
C Tyler Flowers
SS Ozzie Albies

LHP Cole Hamels