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Thursday night Orioles game thread: vs Twins, 7:05 p.m.

The O’s turn to Spenser Watkins to close out the series with the chance of salvaging a split.

Baltimore Orioles v Oakland Athletics Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

So, to recap, what have we learned so far in three games of this four-game series against Minnesota?

1. The Twins are good. They have a 15-10 record and have gone 11-2 in their last thirteen games, The AL Central leaders are leaders not just because every other team is sub-.500, but because of a powerful rotation and bullpen, and an offense doing just enough to keep the team in games. They’ve scored 13 runs against the Orioles this series: not insane numbers, but O’s fans would love to see that production from the bats. Speaking of the bats…

2. O’s hitters are still scuffling, but it turns out that facing less-than-top quality competition helps. After Tuesday’s game, when Brandon Hyde couldn’t conceal his simmering frustration at “guys going for stats” instead of using good approaches, the Birds muscled up for 12 hits and nine runs against old friend Dylan Bundy. Bundy’s stuff wasn’t its sharpest on Wednesday; then again, when Orioles hitters aren’t facing Corbin Burnes and Nestor Cortes, maybe they look kind of OK!

3. The bullpen is good, but mortal. On Monday, Bryan Baker (9.1 IP, 5.79 ERA), was touched up for the game-winning run. On Tuesday, that (dis)honor went to Joey Krehbiel (1 IP, 3 ER, 3.27 ERA) and Keegan Akin (2 IP, 2 ER, 2.20 ERA), both of whom, until now, have been awesome this season. Yet on Wednesday they shut down the game for five innings. So, not godly but still good.

4. The O’s injury-riddled rotation continues to roll. Tyler Wells allowed one run on Monday, Bruce Zimmermann two on Tuesday, Kyle Bradish four—OK, that’s not great, but he’s a rookie!!—on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Spenser Watkins has a 2.55 ERA in four starts. Can he continue it tonight?

Watkins always seems to be walking a tightrope, but he’s put up genuinely better peripheral numbers this year. Here’s one: in 2021, opponents averaged .322 against him. In 2022, that’s .209. Headed into Thursday’s game, the only Twin who has faced Watkins is Gio Urshela, back in his Yankee days: he is 0-for-1. We have the element of surprise on our side!

Against Watkins, the Twins start the righty Chris Archer (4 GS, 0-0, 2.93 ERA/5.53 FIP, 14 K) who—incredibly to me, at least—is 33 years old and pitching for his fourth AL team in Minnesota. Archer has gone through a series of injuries since 2018, when the Rays, his team for six seasons, dealt him to Pittsburgh. In his last start, which came against his former team, the former ace Archer hit 96 with his heater and fanned four.

Against Archer, Anthony Bemboom is 0-for-2, Robinson Chirinos 1-for-4, Austin Hays 1-for-6, Trey Mancini is 5-for-17 (.294) with 3 RBIs, Ryan Mountcastle is 1-for-2 with a solo dinger, Anthony Santander is 3-for-8 (.375) and Rougned Odor is 1-for-13 (.154).

Orioles lineup

1. Cedric Mullins (L) CF

2. Trey Mancini (R) DH

3. Anthony Santander (S) RF

4. Austin Hays (R) LF

5. Ryan Mountcastle (R) 1B

6. Rougned Odor (L) 2B

7. Ramon Urias (R) 3B

8. Robinson Chirinos (R) C

9. Jorge Mateo (R) SS

Twins lineup

1. Byron Buxton (R) CF

2. Carlos Correa (R) SS

3. Jorge Polanco (S) 2B

4. Max Kepler (L) RF

5. Gio Urshela (R) 3B

6. Gary Sánchez (R) DH

7. Trevor Larnach (L) LF

8. José Miranda (R) 1B

9. Ryan Jeffers (R) C

Let’s go O’s!