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Friday night Orioles game thread: vs. Rays, 7:05

The Orioles have a chance to pick up a third straight win, if they can only manage to beat the 79-48 Rays.

Atlanta Braves v Baltimore Orioles
Matt Harvey really needs to button one more button.
Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

There is no team in the American League with a better record than the Rays. This is true by a margin of four games. If the Orioles are going to turn their little two-game winning streak into something more, that’s the team they’re going to have to beat. That hasn’t happened very often this season. One reason that the Rays are 79-48 is that they’ve gone 15-1 against the Orioles. This is also one of the reasons that the Orioles are 40-86. Sheesh.

Tonight’s Orioles starting pitcher, Matt Harvey, faced these Rays only eleven days ago. It did not go well. Harvey gave up the full Tommy Hunter (five runs, all earned) in a 4.2 inning outing. That’s a tough way to win a game. It’s even tougher when the O’s offense combines to go 1-9 in at-bats with a runner in scoring position.

Rays starting pitcher Shane McClanahan faced the O’s a mere eight days ago. That went fairly well for him, as he struck out eight batters over a five inning start. McClanahan allowed just one run while giving up five hits and a walk. The O’s offense was un-clutch in this game, too, not that they got many RISP chances. They went 1-6.

In a universe not all that different from this one, the 2021 Orioles might be heading into this game having tied the 1988 team’s streak of futility, with a chance to set a new franchise record. That, thankfully, is not in play, thanks to the O’s winning the final two games of their series against the Angels. Their probable loss tonight will just end up being one more loss in a season with many losses. Hopefully they can manage to win another game before the next losing streak reaches tragicomic proportions.

Orioles lineup

  1. Cedric Mullins - CF
  2. Ryan Mountcastle - 1B
  3. Trey Mancini - DH
  4. Anthony Santander - RF
  5. Austin Hays - LF
  6. Ramón Urías - SS
  7. Pedro Severino - C
  8. Jahmai Jones - 2B
  9. Kelvin Gutiérrez - 3B

Mullins enters this game trailing LA’s David Fletcher by one hit for the AL hit crown. It doesn’t particularly matter who leads the AL in hits, but only Cal Ripken Jr. in 1983 has ever done it for the Orioles, so it would be cool if Mullins can manage to do that this year. He’s been a significantly better hitter than Fletcher overall, with an OPS 210 points higher than the Angels batter and an OPS+ that’s 58 points higher. None of that gets counted in the hits race, though. So good luck to Cedric tonight and every game for the rest of the year.

Rays lineup

  1. Brandon Lowe - 2B
  2. Nelson Cruz - DH
  3. Wander Franco - SS
  4. Austin Meadows - LF
  5. Yandy Díaz - 1B
  6. Joey Wendle - 3B
  7. Manuel Margot - RF
  8. Kevin Kiermaier - CF
  9. Mike Zunino - C

The Rays can’t afford to let their foot off the gas for this slam dunk series against the Orioles because they’ve got the hard-charging, Satan-fueled Yankees coming up behind them. New York has won 12 straight games, so the Rays, despite going 8-2 over their last ten, have lost ground and hold a division lead of just four games. Although I will be sad if the Yankees pass the Rays, I will not be sad for the Rays if the reason they lose out is because they blew some late August games to the Orioles.

#1 draft pick chase update: The Orioles enter tonight 2.5 games ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks for that top pick. Arizona’s game against the Phillies is set to begin at 7:05, the same as this game.