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Tuesday night Orioles game thread: vs. White Sox, 7:05 ET

Two teams chasing a Wild Card meet in what is close to a must-win situation.

Baltimore Orioles v Chicago White Sox Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

With 41 games left to play, the Orioles host the White Sox for a three-game series that could have serious implications for the AL Wild Card race.

If the playoffs were today, Tampa Bay (66-55), Toronto (65-55), and Seattle (66-56) would all qualify. Two-and-a-half games back of the third and final slot, the Orioles (63-58) are definitely still in contention, but at 5-5 in their last 10 games, they’ve lost ground on the red-hot Rays and Mariners.

Chicago (62-60), meanwhile, is four games back of Seattle, but their playoff hopes are far from extinguished, in part because the current AL Central leader, Cleveland (64-56), is very much still reachable. (By the way, if the Orioles played in the AL Central, they’d be 1.5 games back of the division leaders. Just your daily reminder that the AL East is a tough place to live.)

The last time Baltimore and Chicago played, in late June, the Orioles took three of four games, Chicago narrowly avoiding the sweep with a 4-3 win in the finale. With one more win over the next three games, the Birds will clinch the season series, but as Alex Church pointed out in his series preview, the Birds should have higher aspirations for this three-game series.

The trouble is, tonight Chicago is throwing out one of the AL’s best pitchers in Dylan Cease. His 178 strikeouts (in 133 innings!) are tied for the AL lead, while a 12-5 record and 2.09 ERA speak for themselves.

The last time the Orioles faced Cease (in that 4-3 loss mentioned above) the righty allowed one run over seven innings on a solo home run to—of all people—Jonathan Araúz. Down 4-1 in the ninth, Birds would score two runs off White Sox closer Kendall Graveman, but it wasn’t quite enough for a comeback.

The Birds will probably try for that same strategy tonight—and hopefully execute it a bit better. As Alex also reported, Chicago’s bullpen ranks in the lower third of the league in several categories.

At any rate, against the right-hander Cease the Orioles are going lefty heavy (and no, that doesn’t include No. 1 prospect Gunnar Henderson, at least not tonight), with six southpaws in the lineup, counting switch hitters. No Oriole really has a record of success against Cease except Cedric Mullins, who’s 3-for-8, Anthony Santander (2-for-8) and Adley Rutschman (1-for-2).

Meanwhile, the Birds are countering with their secret sauce: Austin Voth! OK, but before you snicker, note that Voth has an impressive 2.81 ERA and 1.125 WHIP in 14 games with Baltimore this season, thanks in part to a better plan of attack courtesy of Orioles coaches. Voth is 3-0 with a 2.75 ERA over his last eight appearances, and the Birds have won six of those games.

Orioles lineup

1. Cedric Mullins CF
2. Adley Rutschman C
3. Anthony Santander DH
4. Ryan Mountcastle 1B
5. Terrin Vavra 2B
6. Kyle Stowers RF
7. Austin Hays LF
8. Rougned Odor 3B
9. Jorge Mateo SS

White Sox lineup

1. AJ Pollock LF
2. Luis Robert CF
3. Eloy Jiménez DH
4. José Abreu 1B
5. Yoán Moncada 3B
6. Gavin Sheets RF
7. Elvis Andrus SS
8. Josh Harrison 2B
9. Seby Zavala C