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Orioles Game #120 Game Thread: at Padres, 9:40

The Orioles try for a fourth straight win and second straight series win against the Padres on Tuesday night

Houston Astros v Baltimore Orioles
Jack Flaherty makes his third Orioles start tonight.
Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

Do you know something cool? The Orioles have already equaled their preseason projected win total from the PECOTA model. That projection thought they’d go 74-88 this season. The Orioles are already 74-45. Perhaps it will be a common thread if this becomes the next era of extended good O’s baseball, just like the last one, that they are always beating what the computers and the experts think.

This is a meaningless milestone at this point. It doesn’t matter! The Orioles have long since had their sights set on greater heights than beating those meager projections. They are set even higher than “just” a wild card spot at this point. The O’s have a 10.5 game lead on the Mariners, who are the current top chaser of a wild card spot. The team has been at least tied for a share of first in the AL East since July 19 and in sole possession of first place since July 22.

Winning the division is almost certain to come with a bye through the best-of-three wild card round. It’s huge. The Orioles just need to keep winning as many games as possible and hope that ends up keeping them ahead of the Rays. They enter tonight with a three game lead in the division. The Rays are also out west, playing the Giants in San Francisco. The Rays played a much less stressful game yesterday as they also won. That kept the O’s with a three game edge.

This west coast trip is going to be important for the O’s to do more than just tread water because these last two teams they’re playing are not heading for good places. The Padres, here, are a team of whom better things were expected and they’re 6.5 out from the wild card race. People had been remarking that the team just looks bored and like they don’t care, and I felt like you could see some of that in last night’s game in the effort level as outfielders went for balls in the gap or in the corner. Keep them disinterested!

The Orioles, for all of their strengths, are not a team that excels at kicking teams in the teeth early and rolling comfortably from there. The best example of that is surely Atlanta, which has scored 117 first inning runs this year off of a batting split of .332/.389/.615. That’s absurd! Just comical nonsense right there. The Orioles, by comparison, have the first inning as their second-worst inning, with .220/.301/.383 batting. For all that, the Braves are 2.5 games up on the Orioles for best record in MLB. Just win, baby. Get that done and nobody cares how pretty it looks.

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. Austin Hays - LF
  8. Adam Frazier - 2B
  9. Ramón Urías - 3B

There is no sign of Aaron Hicks in this lineup after MASN highlighted that he may have been tender after running to second base in last night’s game. But he’s the fourth outfielder, so that doesn’t mean anything that he’s not in the lineup. Hopefully we don’t have to find out whether or not he’s available based on developments within the game.

Padres lineup

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

Michael Wacha returns from the injured list to make the start for the Padres. He last pitched at the MLB level on July 1. Maybe he’ll be rusty, but it was a good season for him before that. Wacha has a 2.84 ERA with 15 starts under his belt.