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Monday night Orioles game thread: @ Padres, 9:40 ET

The Orioles’ West Coast tour heads south to San Diego for a late night starter matchup of veteran vs. rookie: the always-dangerous Yu Darvish faces off against an improved Grayson Rodriguez.

Baltimore Orioles v San Diego Padres
From the last time these two teams played: July 29-30, 2019. Chris Davis hit a home run for Baltimore and Luis Urías was in SD’s infield. It’s been a while.
Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

The Orioles are coming off a series in Seattle that could have turned disastrous at many points—a nine-inning shutout by opposing starter George Kirby, a Mike Baumann blown save, Shintaro Fujinami being asked to conquer his nerves and get a save… But thanks to clutch pitching and some late-innings heroics, the Orioles managed to end in the win column and pad their AL East lead to 3 games. Now the West Coast tour swings south to San Diego.

Like the LA Angels, the Padres are a star-studded team that isn’t gelling the way people had expected. They’ve dealt with a ton of pitcher injuries—starters Joe Musgrove and Michael Wacha, relievers Adrian Morejón, Tim Hill and Reiss Knehr. And there’s lots of struggles on offense: DH Matt Carpenter is hitting .166, CF Trent Grisham is batting .211, and catcher Gary Sánchez, on his fourth team in three years, is averaging .216. First baseman Jake Cronenworth is OPS’ing .705. And old Orioles amigo Manny Machado, who missed time with a fractured left hand, is OPS’ing .778—definitely not bad, but his lowest since 2014.

Hovering around .500 at the Trade Deadline, San Diego decided to spend, not sell. Five players were brought aboard: a starter (old man Rich Hill), a lefty and a righty bat (Ji-Man Choi, Garrett Cooper), and two relievers (Scott Barlow, Sean Reynolds). So far, it’s not going great: the Padres are 4-7 since the start of August, including losing three of four to their division rival the Dodgers, and they sit 5.5 games of the final Wild Card spot.

Tonight, they’ll hand the ball to the 36-year-old Yu Darvish (8-7, 4.19 ERA). In his 11th season, Darvish has had kind of an up-and-down year: his first-half ERA was 4.87, but in six starts since the All Star Game, he’s 3-1 with a 2.55 ERA. Darvish, you might remember, has no fewer than eight pitches in his arsenal, but he’s gotten sweeper-sinker-slider heavy, and mostly phased out the changeup. His slider and his fastball have become his most hittable pitches (.738 and .582 slugging, respectively).

The only Orioles with much experience against Darvish are Adam Frazier and James McCann. McCann has liked hitting against him, Frazier hasn’t: McCann is 4-for-10 against Darvish with two homers but Frazier is just 3-for-20.

Grayson Rodriguez’s late-season resurgence continued last week, as he held a dangerous Astros team to two runs over six innings. Since returning from his, say, Triple-A sabbatical in July, the 23-year-old right hander has a 1.081 WHIP and is holding batters to a .210 average. The only other thing Rodriguez could be giving his team right is more length: All-Star closer Félix Bautista threw two (dramatic) innings on Saturday, and Yennier Cano, Mike Baumann and Shintaro Fujinami were used last night.

Orioles lineup

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

Padres lineup

  1. Ha-Seong Kim 2B
  2. Fernando Tatis Jr. RF
  3. Juan Soto LF
  4. Manny Machado 3B
  5. Xander Bogaerts SS
  6. Jake Cronenworth 1B
  7. Luis Campusano C
  8. Garrett Cooper DH
  9. Trent Grisham CF