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Thursday afternoon Orioles game thread: at Red Sox, 1:35

A win today guarantees the Orioles at least a .500 season. This has been true the last two days as well, but they lost.

Detroit Tigers v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Would you believe that the Orioles are 23-32 in day games this season? This is a rhetorical question, because I know you will have no problem believing that. The frustrating record in afternoon games has been one of the constant things going on this season, regularly though not exclusively coinciding with “forfeit lineups” as some players get a day of rest in the final game of a series.

The Orioles have, perhaps, tried to avoid at least part of this problem by deploying the forfeit lineup on Wednesday night to set themselves up to not have to use that lineup in this series finale. It’s a real lineup. Maybe you’d rather see Terrin Vavra than Rougned Odor, and that’s fine, but other than that the guys are playing who should be playing. If they lose today, it won’t be because they intentionally sent out a lineup with hitters who don’t seem like they should be part of the A-team.

There are, of course, plenty of other reasons a team can lose a baseball game. Though the O’s only gave up three runs last night, the pitching has been highly erratic in the Boston series. If Monday and Tuesday’s offense carries over to today, that’s bad news for fill-in starter Mike Baumann. The presence of a fill-in starter is not a great omen for victory as it is. It’d be better to have a midseason form Tyler Wells here, but that’s not what we had before his season-ending injured list trip anyway.

By this point, the Orioles have lost enough that there is not much in the way of stakes for each individual game. The wild card dream is very nearly officially dead. The elimination number there is 3. That could happen as soon as tomorrow, if the O’s lose today and tomorrow and Seattle wins tomorrow. They need to go 2-5 over the last seven to make sure they win at least 82 games. This is a number that would feel significant to fans even though it’s probably not that meaningful.

Orioles lineup

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

Good things could and hopefully will come from this lineup as they face off against Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi.

Red Sox lineup

  1. Tommy Pham - LF
  2. Rafael Devers - 3B
  3. Xander Bogaerts - SS
  4. Alex Verdugo - RF
  5. J.D. Martinez - DH
  6. Triston Casas - 1B
  7. Christian Arroyo - 2B
  8. Kiké Hernández - CF
  9. Connor Wong - C

In addition to an Orioles victory today guaranteeing them a non-losing season, it would also guarantee that they will not finish in last place in the AL East. The O’s are six games ahead of the Red Sox. If they win today and move to seven games ahead, then with six games remaining, they cannot be caught.

The O’s beating the Red Sox today would also give them a winning record of 10-9 against Boston for the season. Much like 81 or 82 wins, this is not a huge milestone compared to, you know, making the playoffs, but it would be fun if the O’s had a winning record when facing at least one division opponent this year.