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Wednesday afternoon Orioles game thread: vs Guardians, 3:05 ET

Things were supposed to get easier this series, but so far … not so much.

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Cleveland Guardians v Baltimore Orioles
Tony Taters has been a force in the last weeks. More RBIs from him would be helpful today.
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Orioles’ grueling month of May was expected to come to a soft landing with three home games against the 23-29 Guardians. Instead, Cleveland’s Logan Allen proved unhittable in Game 1, and the Orioles also lost Cedric Mullins for at least a few weeks to a right adductor strain. Then they signed DFA’d former Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks to a deal, and that somehow made the fanbase even sadder. Baltimore tied up the series on Tuesday with a win behind Kyle Gibson, but having to bring out the big guns—Roca, Montaña—after racing to an 8-1 lead is also not ideal.

Will the Birds have anything left in the tank against the 2020 Cy Young Award winner, Shane Bieber? The matchup already looks lopsided. This was supposed to be young buck Grayson Rodriguez’s turn in the rotation, but the rookie looked a little raw in his 10 major league starts, so he’s been sent down to AAA for a little more seasoning.

So we turn, instead, to So we turn, instead, to a likely tag team of Keegan Akin and Austin Voth, both bullpen arms able to provide length given their hefty experience as starters. The lefty Akin has appeared in just seven games this season, and while his 3.68 ERA is alright, he has an elevated 1.64 WHIP. Voth had a terrible April, but he’s since stabilized, with a 2.31 ERA in May to go with a 1.11 WHIP. And remember that Voth was huge for Baltimore in 2022, pitching to a 3.04 ERA in 22 appearances (17 starts).

Back to the guy with the pitching hardware. Shane Bieber has put up front-half of the rotation numbers in 2023, with a 4-3 record and a 3.04 ERA. But according to The Athletic’s Zack Meisel, after undergoing a shoulder injury, Bieber is not the same pitcher he was in 2020. Hitters aren’t chasing his pitches out of the zone as often, his 16.8% K rate is his lowest in six seasons, and he’s allowing a bunch of hard contact. Three starts ago, Bieber allowed 12 hits to the White Sox, the most he’s ever surrendered in a major-league outing. (Oh, to have these kinds of problems…)

Most topically for the Orioles today, Bieber has evolved from the sort of pitcher who throws 60% fastballs to one whom, with diminished velocity, now throws approximately even percentages of fastball/slider/cutter. It’s the kind of approach that the Orioles tried to make work with Matt Harvey a few seasons ago—only in that case, it didn’t. “So, who, exactly, is [Bieber] at this point?” asked The Athletic. Today’s matchup might help give an answer.

The Orioles are going lefty-heavy today, with Adam Frazier leading off, Gunnar Henderson at third base, Ryan O’Hearn starting in right field and batting seventh and newcomer Aaron Hicks manning center and hitting sixth.

Orioles lineup

1. Adam Frazier 2B
2. Adley Rutschman C
3. Anthony Santander DH
4. Ryan Mountcastle 1B
5. Gunnar Henderson 3B
6. Aaron Hicks CF
7. Ryan O’Hearn RF
8. Jorge Mateo SS
9. Ryan McKenna LF

Guardians lineup

1. Steven Kwan LF
2. Amed Rosario SS
3. José Ramírez 3B
4. Josh Naylor 1B
5. Josh Bell DH
6. Gabriel Arías RF
7. Andrés Giménez 2B
8. Myles Straw CF
9. Cam Gallagher C