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Wednesday afternoon Orioles game thread: at Blue Jays, 3:07

The Orioles would reclaim the third Wild Card spot if they’re able to complete a sweep of the Jays today. No pressure!

Baltimore Orioles v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but today is a hugely important game for the Orioles.

When you’re in the thick of the playoff race in August, of course, all the games are hugely important. But this particular one is a doozy. If the O’s are able to win the series finale and complete a three-game sweep in Toronto this afternoon, they’ll be back in playoff position, moving 0.5 games ahead of the Blue Jays for the third and final Wild Card spot. (It’d be quite a fall for the Jays, who entered the series holding the first Wild Card spot.)

The O’s have already secured a series win by taking the first two in Toronto, but with so much on the line and so many teams in the Wild Card hunt, they might not be able to afford anything less than a sweep. The Mariners, currently two games ahead of the Orioles for the top Wild Card spot, have a ridiculously easy remaining schedule, including nine of their next 13 games coming against lousy teams. The Rays, 1.5 games up on the Birds for the second spot, have been beating up on the useless Yankees and then get an incredibly soft slate, with 13 straight games against losing teams starting tomorrow.

There are plenty of teams hot on the Orioles’ tail, too. The White Sox (winners of five in a row) and Twins are each just a half game back of the Birds, and each of them have multiple series remaining against the AL Central patsies, the Tigers and Royals. The Guardians currently lead the AL Central by one game but could rejoin the Wild Card fray. And even the sub-.500 Red Sox refuse to go away, lurking four games behind the Orioles in a last-gasp effort to save their season.

Long story short: don’t expect the Orioles to get any help eliminating their competition. If they’re going to complete a miraculous run to the playoffs, they’re going to have to take their fate into their own hands and keep rattling off wins.

Today it will fall on surprise contributor Austin Voth to keep the good times rolling. Voth, claimed off waivers in June from the worst team in baseball, the Nationals, has a 3.22 ERA in nine starts since joining the Orioles, and last time out he worked a season-high 5.1 innings against the Rays. This will be Voth’s first start of the year against the Blue Jays, but he did face them twice in relief in June, giving up one run in two innings.

The Jays will counter with Ross Stripling, a fellow reliever-turned-starter who has an excellent 3.16 ERA this year. Stripling has faced the Orioles five times in his career, giving up eight earned runs and 18 hits in 12.1 innings (5.84 ERA). The Birds’ lineup will be without Adley Rutschman for this day game after a night game. It’s the first time since July 28, eighteen games ago, that he’s out of the starting lineup.

Orioles lineup:

CF Cedric Mullins
DH Anthony Santander
1B Ryan Mountcastle
RF Austin Hays
3B Ramon Urias
LF Ryan McKenna
2B Rougned Odor
SS Jorge Mateo
C Robinson Chirinos

RHP Austin Voth

Blue Jays lineup:

3B Matt Chapman
1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
LF Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
DH Alejandro Kirk
RF Teoscar Hernandez
SS Bo Bichette
CF Ramiel Tapia
2B Santiago Espinal
C Danny Jansen

RHP Ross Stripling