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Tuesday night Orioles game thread: at Nationals, 7:05

The worst-in-MLB Nationals are a team that the Orioles really need to beat, especially with Dean Kremer pitching tonight.

MLB: SEP 07 Blue Jays at Orioles Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Orioles brought a lot of excitement to us this year, just about until the calendar turned to September. Since rolling over this month, the O’s are batting .221/.289/.380 as a team and are averaging about 3.6 runs scored per game.

This is not the only reason they are below .500 for September so far. Sometimes the pitching has been bad, like in both games of the Blue Jays doubleheader and especially in the shellacking by the Red Sox back on Saturday. But it is hard to win, and surely places pressure on the whole pitching staff, if they know that allowing more than three runs is the recipe to a loss.

What is to be done about this is probably going to be the all-consuming question until it is either solved or the season ends. One part of the answer may be that there just needs to be different personnel for the future. There are, for the most part, no more levers to pull to change the roster for this season, although I do understand the impulse to try to get either Joey Ortiz or Jordan Westburg involved in this somehow. This is who we’ve got until changes can be made over the offseason.

With the wild card race mostly a distant dream now, the next realistic goal to shift down to is to have the Orioles end up with a winning season. This would require them to finish 9-13 or better over their remaining 22 games. That doesn’t seem like too tall of an order, given how the team has played since about mid-May, but there aren’t many easy games left on the schedule. Tonight and tomorrow against the worst-in-MLB Nationals are two chances that they will hopefully capitalize on to get into the win column.

Orioles lineup

  1. Cedric Mullins - CF
  2. Adley Rutschman - C
  3. Anthony Santander - DH
  4. Ryan Mountcastle - 1B
  5. Gunnar Henderson - 3B
  6. Ramón Urías - 2B
  7. Kyle Stowers - LF
  8. Austin Hays - RF
  9. Jorge Mateo - SS

This is probably the lineup I am most interested in seeing right now. Whether it gets good results, well, that’s up to the guys to actually do it. The month has been kinder to some than to others.

Dean Kremer makes the start for the Orioles tonight. With how poorly he pitched last season, I think anyone could be forgiven for imagining that he wasn’t ever going to make a positive contribution to the O’s, but he’s rebounded in an amazing way in 2022 and hopefully he can carry that through all the way to the end of the season.

Nationals lineup

  1. Lane Thomas - CF
  2. Joey Meneses - RF
  3. Luke Voit - 1B
  4. Luis Garcia - 2B
  5. Nelson Cruz - DH
  6. Alex Call - LF
  7. CJ Abrams - SS
  8. Israel Pineda - C
  9. Ildemaro Vargas - 3B

That’s not a lineup with a lot of household names, but they’re out-performing the Orioles over the last 28 days by 75 points of OPS. Limit this just to September performance and the Nationals are up by 136 OPS points. It’s a substantial difference! Inexperienced players have been pushed into playing time due to the Nationals teardown. Some of them are doing well for themselves.

Meneses, the right fielder here, is a particular standout, with a .904 OPS through 35 games. He is 30 years old and this is his first MLB action after first arriving in the minors in 2011.

Pitching for the Nationals is Cory Abbott, a player anonymous enough that Baseball Reference hasn’t bothered to get a picture of him in a Nationals cap even though he’s pitched 12 games. (Austin Voth of the Orioles is also in this category, still in a Nats cap after 18 games with the Orioles.) The 26-year-old righty has a 4.22 ERA, but 5.96 FIP, in 32 innings. He’s been particularly vulnerable to the long ball so far this year. Orioles, you know what to do.