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Sunday afternoon Orioles game thread: at Red Sox, 1:10 PM

It’s the Orioles’ last chance to play spoilers in this series. Can Alexander Wells help the Birds avoid a sweep in Boston?

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MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Tampa Bay Rays Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

The AL Wild Card race has been essentially narrowed down to three AL East teams for two spots. The Orioles are helping decide it, in all the wrong ways.

By losing the first two of their three-game set in Boston, the Orioles have allowed the Red Sox to build a one-game lead for the top Wild Card spot. The Yankees and Blue Jays, meanwhile, have each split the first two games of their respective series against Cleveland and Minnesota, giving the Jays a half game lead over New York for the second spot.

Not that the Orioles need to do any favors for the Yanks and Jays, of course, but it’d be nice to see them salvage the final game of this series instead of allowing the Sox to sweep them in a cakewalk. It’ll be up to rookie lefty Alexander Wells, in his sixth MLB start, to get them there. Wells hasn’t pitched five innings in a game since July 29, having slogged through a pair of four-inning starts this month. This will be his first look at the Red Sox. He’ll be countered by veteran righty Nathan Eovaldi, who is making his first start against the Orioles since Opening Day, when John Means outdueled him, 3-0. It’s been a long year since then.

The O’s, as has become a daily ritual, did some bullpen reshuffling this morning. Spenser Watkins has been optioned to Triple-A Norfolk and Dusten Knight has been sent to the great DFA in the sky, having never gotten a chance to unveil his trademark backflip on the mound. I guess when you’ve got a 9.35 ERA in seven major league games, there aren’t a lot of backflipping opportunities.

In their place, up comes Thomas Eshelman, who was briefly in the Birds’ rotation earlier this year but hasn’t pitched in the bigs since July 28. Also joining the team is newly acquired righty Brooks Kriske, who was claimed on waivers from the Yankees last week. The righty was named after and is friends with Brooks Robinson, so it’s only appropriate he’ll finally be pitching for the Orioles. If he gets into a game, he’ll be the 60th different player to make an appearance for the O’s this season, extending the club record.

Orioles lineup:

CF Cedric Mullins
1B Ryan Mountcastle
LF Anthony Santander
DH Trey Mancini
RF Austin Hays
C Pedro Severino
2B Pat Valaika
3B Kelvin Gutierrez
SS Richie Martin

LHP Alexander Wells