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Saturday night game thread: vs. Red Sox, 7:05

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The Orioles try to get their mojo back against Garrett Richards and the Red Sox in Game 2 of the homestand.

Baltimore Orioles v Minnesota Twins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Thursday’s Opening Day series opener at Camden Yards didn’t go so great for the Birds, but howzabout Take 2? The Orioles have a tied-for-AL-best 4-3 record on the season, but the offense has been scuffling. They’re hitting just .219 as a group with a lowly .589 OPS. Austin Hays’s pop at the plate and sure hands in the corner outfield have definitely been missed during his 10-day stint on the IL, and so has production from the middle of the lineup, especially Trey Mancini and Ryan Mountcastle.

Entering today’s game, there are two pieces of good news for this team. One is that the last time the Orioles offense exploded for a win, it was last Sunday against tonight’s Red Sox starter, Garrett Richards. Richards went just two innings against the Birds, allowing six runs on seven hits and two walks in a very shaky debut with his new team. The Orioles feasted on Richards’ 92-94 mph-fastball and slider. Maikel Franco and Cedric Mullins each had two hits in the first two innings last Sunday for a perfect 1.000 batting average against Richards on the season.

The other bit of good news, potentially, is that lefty outfielder DJ Stewart is making his first start of the year after starting the season on the 10-day IL with a hamstring pull. To make room for Stewart, the Orioles optioned utility infielder Pat Valaika yesterday. Stewart is a “three true outcomes” kind of guy, with a penchant for walks and strikeouts, but he also brings lots of pop, something this lineup is in dire need of right now.

The Orioles’ starting lineup:

1. Cedric Mullins - CF
2. Trey Mancini - 1B
3. Anthony Santander - RF
4. Ryan Mountcastle - DH
5. DJ Stewart - LF
6. Maikel Franco - 3B
7. Rio Ruiz - 2B
8. Freddy Galvis - SS
9. Chance Sisco - C

On the mound tonight for the O’s is lefty Bruce Zimmermann. The rookie pitched well in his last start against Boston (also against Garrett Richards), allowing three runs over six innings with five strikeouts and, perhaps most impressively, taking just 73 pitches to do it. Zimmermann’s fastball velocity is up this season and, as CC’s Nick Cicere documented, he’s shown elite movement and location with his changeup. A strong start today by the lefty could do a lot to give his team some momentum.

Here’s the Red Sox lineup that Zimmermann will confront:

1. Enrique Hernández - CF
2. Alex Verdugo - RF
3. Xander Bogaerts - SS
4. Christian Vásquez - DH
5. Rafael Devers - 3B
6. Marwin Gonzalez - LF
7. Christian Arroyo - 2B
8. Bobby Dalbec - 1B
9. Kevin Plawecki - C

Let’s go O’s!