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Orioles-Rangers series preview: One last out-of-division foe to go

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The Orioles welcome in the Rangers, who are almost as bad as they are, to Baltimore for a four-game set before closing with division rivals Toronto and Boston.

Baltimore Orioles v Texas Rangers Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

Around baseball this weekend, you have the Brewers potentially closing out the NL Central race against St. Louis while the Cardinals try to wrap up a Wild Card spot, the Padres clinging to their postseason lives against San Francisco, and the Mariners and Athletics, both of whom are seeing their playoff hopes fading fast, playing each other in a huge series.

And then you have the 55-97 Texas Rangers visiting the 48-104 Baltimore Orioles in the “Oh, God, this season is still going?” Classic.

It is still going, for 10 more games, and the next four come against a Rangers team that has had almost as rough a time this season as our beloved Birds. Texas is 20-44 over its last 64 games. Its best player, according to WAR (Joey Gallo), doesn’t play for the team anymore. The Rangers have a bright spot in Adolis Garcia, who has been a contender for American League Rookie of the Year all year long with 30 home runs and 83 RBI, but he’s the only one still in a Texas uniform with more than 15 home runs.

Aside from Gallo and Garcia, Texas’s top hitters have been Nathaniel Lowe (.262-15-68), Nick Solak (.234-11-47) and Isiah Kiner-Falefa (.270-7-50, 19 steals). It’s been a largely punchless lineup for the Rangers, who rank second-to-last in the majors in average (.230), fourth-to-last in home runs (156) and second-to-last in runs (581).

Pitching-wise, it’s a similar story. Of 30 MLB teams, Texas ranks 25th in ERA (4.82), 27th in home runs allowed (222) and 28th in strikeouts (1,161). The Rangers are also without their best pitcher all season in current Phillie Kyle Gibson, and have been going with a rotation of Jordan Lyles, Dane Dunning, Taylor Hearn, Glenn Otto and Spencer Howard, all of whom have ERAs above 4.50. It hasn’t translated to wins, as Texas has dropped seven of its last eight games.

Game 1: Thursday, 7:05 p.m.

RHP Glenn Otto (0-2, 9.37) at LHP Zac Lowther (0-2, 9.61)

Otto has made only four starts this season since coming over in the Gallo trade with the Yankees. His first start was his best, a five-inning outing against the Astros in which he allowed two hits and no runs, but they’ve gotten progressively tougher. In his last two starts, he’s gone 6.2 innings while allowing 15 earned runs on 15 hits.

Lowther hasn’t been any better, making four starts as well and appearing in eight games. He had a solid outing Sept. 6 against Kansas City, allowing one run in six innings, but he got lit up in recent outings against Toronto (two innings, seven runs) and Boston (3.1 innings, three runs).

Game 2: Friday, 7:05 p.m.

RHP Spencer Howard (0-4, 6.86) at LHP Alexander Wells (1-3, 7.96)

An addition via the Kyle Gibson trade, Howard has made six appearances with Texas, all starts. He hasn’t lasted more than three innings, but two scoreless outings against the Diamondbacks (two innings) and White Sox (three) sandwiched a nightmare effort against the Astros (1.1 innings, six runs) in his three most recent games.

Wells has struggled as a starter this season, pitching to an 8.65 ERA over six times out. He was okay in a Sept. 7 start against Kansas City (four innings, two runs), but he was punished by good lineups in more recent outings against the Yankees (four innings, five runs) and Red Sox (five innings, five runs).

Game 3: Saturday, 7:05 p.m.

RHP Jordan Lyles (9-12, 5.36) at LHP John Means (6-7, 3.25)

The 30-year-old Lyles has been a constant in the Rangers rotation all season. He’s delivered some solid outings, and two of his best have come in his last six games: one run in seven innings against Boston on Aug. 21, and seven shutout innings versus Houston on Sept. 14. He hasn’t pitched against the Orioles this season.

Means has gotten his season back on track after scuffling through late July and early August. His last six starts have been a game score of 55 or better, and he’s compiled a 2.73 ERA over that stretch. His last time out, 6.2 shutout innings of four-hit ball against the Phillies Monday, resulted in a game score of 71 and was his best performance by that metric since his no-hitter against the Mariners on May 5.

Means pitched once against Texas on April 18, pitching seven shutout innings while striking out nine. Texas eventually won in 10 innings, 1-0.

Game 4: Sunday, 1:05 p.m.

RHP Dane Dunning (5-8, 4.28) at TBD

Dunning has started in 23 of his 25 appearances this season, but lately they’ve been more of the opener variety. He’s only pitched 5.2 innings over his last three starts, despite only allowing three runs in that stretch. He’s been a fairly good strikeout pitcher (106 in 110 innings), and if the name rings a bell, it’s likely due to when he threw six shutout innings while striking out five in a 6-1 win over Baltimore April 17.

It’s not clear who the Orioles will start Sunday in the series finale, but it could be either Conner Greene (1-2, 6.30) or Keegan Akin (2-10, 6.63).

Poll

How many games will the Orioles win in this series against the Rangers?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    4 (The Orioles will sweep)
    (6 votes)
  • 21%
    3
    (18 votes)
  • 56%
    2
    (46 votes)
  • 12%
    1
    (10 votes)
  • 2%
    0 (The Orioles will get swept)
    (2 votes)
82 votes total Vote Now