Don’t look now, but the Orioles’ 2021 season is winding to a close. Aw, but I was just starting to get into it!
The O’s begin their penultimate road trip of the season tonight, a six-game sojourn that takes them through Boston and Philadelphia, two teams very much in the thick of their respective leagues’ Wild Card races.
First up: the Red Sox, who — thanks to the Orioles’ walkoff win against the Yankees last night — are half a game up on New York, and tied with Toronto, for a Wild Card spot. The Sox, like the Yankees and the Blue Jays before them, are banking on racking up some wins against the last-place Orioles to keep themselves in playoff position. The O’s, as usual, will attempt to play spoiler, something they haven’t done particularly well against non-Yankees teams the last couple months.
The Orioles will have to contend with Chris Sale, who made his grand return to an MLB mound earlier this season against the Birds, throwing five strong innings with eight strikeouts in a victory August 14. He rattled off three more solid starts after that, but struggled in his most recent outing against the Rays 11 days ago, giving up 10 hits and five runs in 3.2 innings.
The O’s will counter with a lefty of their own, Keegan Akin, who is coming off a heartbreaking outing against the Blue Jays in which he threw six brilliant, no-hit innings, only to — in the span of two batters in the seventh — lose the no-hitter on a Vladimir Guerrero Jr. single and the shutout (and the lead) on a Bo Bichette two-run homer. The Jays ultimately scored 11 runs that inning, three of which were charged to Akin.
Can Akin outduel Chris Sale? I mean, probably not, but stranger things have happened.
CF Cedric Mullins
1B Ryan Mountcastle
DH Trey Mancini
RF Austin Hays
2B Ramon Urias
C Pedro Severino
LF Ryan McKenna
SS Pat Valaika
3B Kelvin Gutierrez
LHP Keegan Akin