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Friday night Orioles game thread: at Rangers, 8:05

Where the offense needs a big bounceback game, and Jorge López has to play the stopper.

Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

It’s not the kind of matchup that necessarily fills you with confidence. The Orioles, mired in a serious offensive slump, travel to Arlington, Texas, to take on the Rangers, their hopes for a win pinned on a guy whose ERA is currently 11.42.

Only two players on the team are hitting above .250 (Cedric Mullins and DJ Stewart, who has just 15 at-bats), and the team as a whole is leading the majors in strikeouts. Some guys, like Trey Mancini, Anthony Santander, and Ryan Mountcastle will break out of their slumps… the question is when.

The Orioles’ No. 4 starter is also having a troubled 2021. Considered to be on the bubble entering the season, López made the starting rotation thanks to a solid spring—a 2.75 ERA in 19.2 innings of work with seven walks and 17 strikeouts. The regular season has not been as kind.

Over two starts López has allowed 11 runs and 11 hits. Opponents are hitting .306 against him and he’s walking an average of 4.15 batters per nine innings. His numbers also get markedly worse the more times he goes through the lineup: it’s a small sample size, but in 0.2 innings pitched in the fifth inning, opposing hitters are hitting .600 and he’s walked three. As CC’s Tyler Young wonders, at some point if this keeps up López will get yanked to the bullpen. This start might be a crucial test.

Tonight’s starter for the Rangers, Mike Foltynewicz, is on a reclamation project after six seasons with Atlanta. The righty missed some time in 2019 with bone spurs in his elbow, and he was cut by the Braves after one rough start in 2020 in which his velocity was down about five miles from his usual. His velocity seems to have bounced back in his first season with Texas, but it’s an open question whether he’ll return to the form he showed in his All-Star 2018 season, when he went 13-10 with a 2.85 ERA.

The 6-7 Rangers, not expected to be competitive in 2021, aren’t the scariest foe the Orioles have faced in 2021, and their offense has been sputtering, too. But you never know in baseball.

Orioles lineup

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

Rangers lineup

1. Isiah Kiner-Falefa SS
2. Nate Lowe 1B
3. Joey Gallo RF
4. Adolis García LF
5. David Dahl DH
6. Nick Solak 2B
7. Jose Trevino C
8. Anderson Tejeda 3B
9. Leody Taveras CF