The Orioles showed some guts in a come-from-behind victory over the Jays on Sunday. The victory clinched a winning road trip for the Birds, and they will now return with three more winnable games against Detroit. With a weekend series against the Astros looming, all three games feel deserving of the must-win label.
The Tigers are not a good baseball team in 2022. That was irrelevant back in May when Detroit swept Baltimore in a three-game series. The Tigers outscored Baltimore 12-to-3 with Jordan Lyles, Bruce Zimmermann and Tyler Wells all taking a loss. Needless to say, a lot has changed since the middle of May.
The three-game set pushed Baltimore to seven games below .500. The Orioles are now 76-69. A postseason appearance feels less likely by the day, but a winning record is still very much in play. The Orioles have Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson now. Detroit fell to 55-91 with a loss to Chicago on Sunday.
Game 1: Monday, September 19, 7:05 p.m., MASN 2
RHP Tyler Wells (7-6, 3.93 ERA) vs. LHP Tyler Alexander (3-10, 5.35 ERA)
Tyler Wells will make his third start since returning from the injured list with a strained oblique. Wells allowed a pair of solo home runs during an otherwise efficient start against the Nationals. Wells completed four innings while throwing 33 of 50 pitches for strikes.
Five innings feels like a reasonable goal as Wells continues to stretch out in September. Keegan Akin warmed up on Sunday but never made an appearance, so he should be available out of the bullpen. DL Hall could be available after throwing one inning on Saturday.
Detroit will send out Alexander in the battle of the Tylers. Alexander has not struck out more than five batters in a game this season, so Baltimore should have an opportunity to put the ball in play against the lefty.
Game 2: Tuesday, September 20, 7:05 p.m., MASN 2
RHP Austin Voth (5-2, 4.36 ERA) vs. LHP Joey Wentz (1-2, 4.15 ERA)
Voth will rejoin the rotation after backing up Wells last week. Voth has become one of Baltimore’s best starters after joining the Orioles in June. The righty picked up a victory in relief his last time out against his former team, the Nationals, and has yet to allow more than three earned runs during his time with the O’s.
Wentz made his major-league debut back in May before missing two months with an injury. The 24-year-old dominated in his first start back with 6.2 scoreless innings against the Royals. The rookie limited Houston to a pair of runs in four innings his last time out. The Tigers plan to send Wentz to the Arizona Fall League after the season to make up for his lost time over the summer.
Game 3: Wednesday, September 21, 7:05 p.m., MASN 2
RHP Jordan Lyles (10-11, 4.70 ERA) vs. RHP Matt Manning (2-2, 3.28 ERA)
Jordan Lyles looked more like himself his last time out, but still allowed four runs in five innings against Toronto. Lyles missed a week with an illness earlier in the month and took an absolute shellacking his first time back against Boston.
The innings-eater should be eager to provide Baltimore a strong start. Lyles has mostly lived up to his reputation this season with a reasonable, but unspectacular, 4.44 FIP through 161 innings. Lyles has an $11-million option for 2023, but could easily become a free agent at the end of the year. Wednesday’s start marks an opportunity to convince Baltimore—or anyone else—that he belongs in their rotation next season.
The Tigers drafted Matt Manning with the ninth pick of the 2016 draft. Manning took his lumps during his rookie season, but has impressed in his sophomore campaign this year. Manning relies heavily on his fastball and slider. Opponents have hit just .195 against his four-seamer that averages 93.4 MPH.
How many games will the Orioles win in this series against the Tigers?