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Monday night Orioles game thread: vs. Angels, 6:35 ET

Get ready for high heat, as Shohei Ohtani and Grayson Rodriguez face off on the mound tonight.

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Cleveland Guardians
It’s Sho-Time at the Yard.
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Angels are coming to town, and that means two things: 1) Two of the biggest stars in the game, and 2) .500-level play.

Sometimes I wonder if being an Angels fan would be even more frustrating than rooting for Baltimore. Since 2011, they’ve featured one of the greatest centerfielders ever to play the game, they’ve never not been in MLB’s Top-11 in payroll, and in that time they’ve made the playoffs once. Since 2018, they’ve also been home to Shohei Ohtani, a two-way player like almost none in history, and they haven’t finished above .500 once in that stretch, either.

This season, with MLB’s seventh-highest payroll at approximately $204M, the Angels are just poking their head above the .500 line with a 21-20 record. For comparison, that puts them five games behind a Baltimore team whose payroll is less than a third of their own ($65M). Like I said, I’d be frustrated.

Tonight, a four-game series at Camden Yards opens with the highly anticipated pitching matchup of Orioles rookie right-hander Grayson Rodriguez, making his eighth career start, and Ohtani, whom Rodriguez described the other day as arguably “the face of baseball right now.”

It feels like a David vs. Goliath matchup, but that’s more to do with how brightly Ohtani’s star is shining than Rodriguez’s being a slouch. In eight starts this season, Ohtani has a 2.74 ERA and an MLB-best 12.9 K’s per nine innings. And of course, he’s done that while OPS’ing .874 and putting up some of the game’s top exit velo numbers as a hitter.

If Grayson Rodriguez doesn’t beat himself, however, he’ll stand a chance tonight. In seven starts, the rookie has a 5.08 ERA but hefty strikeout numbers himself, with 41 K’s in 33.1 innings. His 1.545 WHIP is above all what could do with improvement: when G-Rod loses his command, he lives in the middle of the zone or simply outside of it. His last start, against the Rays, was his best, however: 5.2 innings of two-run ball with four strikeouts.

Orioles lineup

1. Cedric Mullins CF
2. Adley Rutschman C
3. Anthony Santander 1B
4. Ryan Mountcastle DH
5. Gunnar Henderson 3B
6. Austin Hays LF
7. Adam Frazier 2B
8. Terrin Vavra RF
9. Jorge Mateo SS

Angels lineup

1. Taylor Ward LF
2. Mike Trout CF
3. Shohei Ohtani P
4. Hunter Renfroe RF
5. Matt Thaiss 1B
6. Gio Urshela 3B
7. Luis Rengifo 2B
8. Chad Wallach C
9. Zach Neto SS