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Tuesday night Orioles game thread: vs. Blue Jays, 7:05 ET

The Jays are fighting for their season, but the Orioles wouldn’t mind continuing to dominate their division rival.

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MLB: JUN 15 Blue Jays at Orioles
Toronto’s Yusei Kikuchi on the mound against the Orioles on June 15, 2023. 
Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With lots of potentially weighty playoff implications, the Athletic has flagged this upcoming Baltimore-Toronto series as a must-watch. The Jays just got passed by a surging Seattle Mariners for the final AL wild card spot, and they’re fighting for their playoff chances. The Orioles (hopefully) won’t make it easy, though: they’ve dominated Toronto this year, winning eight of 10 games so far. This is the last time the two teams will meet this year—at least, in the regular season.

As has happened in 2023, Toronto probably should be playing better than they are. They’re 10-8 in August—not bad per se, but with the sizzling Seattle 15-4 in the same stretch, the Jays are currently on the outside of the playoffs looking in. Toronto’s staff leads the Majors in ERA over the last month, but their offense has been just middle-of-the-pack in runs scored, average, and power. One bit of good news for Toronto is the return of their biggest bat, Bo Bichette, from the IL (knee).

Tonight, Yusei Kikuchi gets the game ball. The lefty Kikuchi has been huge over his last month, putting up a 1.44 ERA, a 0.960 WHIP, and 24 K’s in 25 innings. This will be his fourth start against the Orioles this season: he’s 1-1 with a 3.52 ERA, which includes one bad start, one pretty-good start, and one excellent one. Walks and home runs were a problem for Kikuchi in the bad start. Two of the Orioles’ hottest hitters right now, Ryan Mountcastle and Adley Rutschman, both have standout career numbers against Kikuchi—a .583 and .357 career average, respectively—so maybe they can take advantage.

Even so, Kikuchi probably won’t give up a lot of runs tonight, so the Orioles’ efforts to banish Toronto from the postseason would get a big boost from a strong Grayson Rodriguez outing. You may have heard: Rodriguez is a much-improved pitcher since a month-long stint in Triple-A Norfolk where he worked on his mechanics. His numbers pre-Norfolk: 7.35 ERA, 1.743 WHIP, with a .956 OPS against. And since: 3.03 ERA, 0.981 WHIP, and a .517 OPS against. On August 2, Rodriguez’s last time facing Toronto, he allowed three runs on two hits, two walks, and six strikeouts.

Orioles lineup

1. Adley Rutschman DH
2. Ryan Mountcastle 1B
3. Gunnar Henderson 3B
4. Austin Hays LF
5. Jordan Westburg 2B
6. James McCann C
7. Cedric Mullins CF
8. Ryan McKenna RF
9. Jorge Mateo SS

Blue Jays lineup

1. Whit Merrifeld 2B
2. Bo Bichette SS
3. Brandon Belt DH
4. Vlad Guerrero Jr. 1B
5. George Springer LF
6. Daulton Varsho RF
7. Matt Chapman 3B
8. Danny Jansen C
9. Kevin Kiermaier CF