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Saturday afternoon Orioles game thread: at Rays, 4:10

The Orioles need a win today to stay in first place, but they’ll be facing a pitcher who has always dominated them.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Tampa Bay Rays Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

The Orioles have held at least a share of first place for three days now — alone at the top for one day, sandwiched between two days tied with the Rays — but a loss in Tampa Bay this afternoon would send them back to second place for the time being. I don’t know about you, but I like first place better.

To stay in front, though, the Orioles will have to defeat a pitcher they’ve never beaten before: Rays ace Shane McClanahan. The Baltimore native has been unforgiving on his hometown team, going 6-0 against them — his most wins against any opponent — and posting a 2.14 ERA while striking out 52 batters in 46.1 innings. That included a typically dominant six scoreless innings at Camden Yards on May 8. In McClanahan’s eight career starts against them, the O’s had never tagged him for more than two runs. So, yeah, it’s probably not going to be a high-scoring game for the Birds.

On the Orioles side, Grayson Rodriguez will make his second start since his return from the minors. His first, against the Dodgers on Monday, was hardly dominant but showed some signs of improvement over his disastrous earlier stint with the Orioles. Rodriguez’s second and most recent major league win came against these Rays, back on May 9, when he held them to two runs in a career-high 5.2 innings. Solo homers by Wander Franco and Taylor Walls (who just landed on the injured list today) accounted for Tampa Bay’s only runs.

At this point we really don’t know what to expect from Grayson, but further signs of progress would be nice. Best of luck to him. Against McClanahan, he’s going to need it.

Orioles lineup:

LF Austin Hays
DH Adley Rutschman
RF Anthony Santander
1B Ryan Mountcastle
CF Aaron Hicks
3B Gunnar Henderson
2B Ramón Urías
C James McCann
SS Jorge Mateo

RHP Grayson Rodriguez

I get why the lefty-swinging Ryan O’Hearn and Colton Cowser aren’t in the lineup, but can’t say I understand why Jordan Westburg is excluded. That bottom two of McCann and Mateo is brutal against a pitcher who doesn’t need any more help.

Rays lineup:

1B Yandy Diaz
SS Wander Franco
DH Luke Raley
LF Randy Arozarena
2B Brandon Lowe
3B Isaac Paredes
RF Josh Lowe
CF Jose Siri
C Rene Pinto

LHP Shane McClanahan