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Sunday afternoon Orioles game thread, @ Twins, 2:10 ET

Having sewed up the series against Minnesota, the Orioles try to end the first half of their season with a sweep.

Baltimore Orioles v New York Yankees Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Twins series, take two! The Orioles are seeing double, with two consecutive weekends spent facing the Minnesota Twins. Last weekend, it didn’t go great: the Orioles lost two out of three, scoring just three runs in three games against a tough outfit of Pablo López, Bradley Ober and Sonny Gray.

Already better results this time: the O’s have taken the first two and scored 9 runs. And their pitching has looked good, too. No, it’s no shocker anymore when Tyler Wells throws six innings and allows two runs, as he did Saturday. But to get the same from Cole Irvin, who’d had a 10.38 ERA in his first four starts as an Oriole? That’s when you know your rotation is clicking.

Well. . . It’ll really be clicking if Kyle Gibson can deliver one strong start to close out his up-and-down first half. O’s starters have a 2.23 ERA as a unit thus far in July, but Gibson has gone the other way. He’s averaging 7.27 earned runs over his last five starts, enough to blow up his ERA by almost a run in the last month alone. Control and fatigue seem to be an issue: Gibson’s walk rate is elevated and his strike percentage is down. Hopefully he’s got one more good start in him before the break.

The Twins won’t make it easy for him or Orioles hitters, though. Even after having endured Ober and All-Star Sonny Gray yesterday, they’ll now have to face the Twins’ No. 3 guy in Joe Ryan (2.0 bWAR, 3.42 ERA). Ryan strikes out a lot of hitters (114 K in 102.2 IP) and he doesn’t walk many (16 BB). He’s primarily a two-pitch pitcher, mixing a four-seam fastball with a splitter, his favorite putaway pitch. The Orioles haven’t seen a lot of Ryan, but Austin Hays and Cedric Mullins are both 2-for-6 against him. Aaron Hicks, DH’ing today, is 1-for-6.

It’s been an extraordinary first half for the 53-35 Orioles. Can they defy today’s matchup odds and collect win No. 54 and a series sweep?

Orioles lineup

1. Gunnar Henderson SS
2. Adley Rutschman C
3. Anthony Santander RF
4. Ryan O’Hearn 1B
5. Austin Hays LF
6. Cedric Mullins CF
7. Aaron Hicks DH
8. Jordan Westburg 2B
9. Ramón Urías 3B

Twins lineup

1. Carlos Correa SS
2. Edouard Julien 2B
3. Byron Buxton DH
4. Alex Kiriloff 1B
5. Donovan Solano 3B
6. Max Kepler 3B
7. Christian Vázquez C
8. Joey Gallo LF
9. Michael Taylor CF