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Orioles Game #148 Game Thread: vs. Rays, 7:05

Will the Orioles offense return to the field tonight?

Chicago White Sox v Baltimore Orioles
Grayson Rodriguez facing the Rays in September is an exciting prospect.
Photo by Jess Rapfogel/Getty Images

It feels like if the Orioles are going to draw a line and hold it, they need to do that here tonight. The possible swing of either going back on top of the AL East, with the head-to-head tiebreaker in hand, to falling a game behind with the potential to still lose that tiebreaker scenario and the long-comforting no-sweep streak tomorrow, is significant. Beat the Rays!

This task is not easy. The Rays are also a good team. We have seen this over the last couple of games. It is particularly difficult to beat them without much offense to speak of. That means everything else has to go perfectly. This is a lot to ask. It is not too much to ask that the Orioles offense actually show up for crucial games in the month of September. They will certainly need to make a better statement in whatever October games the O’s qualify to play, wherever they end up playing them.

The good news is that as grim as the last few days have been, it’s still a near-lock that the Orioles will be playing in the postseason. O’s beat writer Nathan Ruiz has been at the forefront of daily number crunching of the permutations of AL West/Blue Jays teams qualifying for the second and third wild card spots.

Today, the “clinch anything” magic number for the Orioles is three. An Orioles win knocks that down by one. So does either a Mariners or a Rangers loss. Seattle plays the Dodgers starting at 9:40. The Rangers begin their game against the Guardians at 6:40. Every picture out there improves with an O’s win. This has been the case every day for a while and yet since Sunday the O’s have lost five of six games, scoring the following number of runs in each loss: 3, 2, 0, 3, 1. Two of these were one-run losses. It is brutal lately.

It’s a Grayson Rodriguez start for the Orioles tonight. He’s been good in four of his previous five starts, but the fifth one was his most recent, when he didn’t finish five innings in Boston. That’s been part of the short start chain reaction that’s put a hurting on the O’s bullpen. The Orioles need a six-plus inning start almost as bad as they need a win.

Orioles lineup

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

This makes three straight games without Ryan Mountcastle in the starting lineup. Although the Orioles said he’d be avoiding the injured list with his shoulder soreness, it now seems like they might have been better just putting him on the IL when they brought up Heston Kjerstad... who, naturally, is not in the starting lineup after homering yesterday.

After watching Hicks chug along after any ball in his direction last night, I’d be happy to not see him very much. For this year, Hicks has been substantially worse against right-handed pitchers. So I don’t get why the O’s would put Hicks out there instead of Kjerstad. Maybe it will work out tonight.

Rays lineup

  1. Yandy Díaz - 1B
  2. Brandon Lowe - 2B
  3. Randy Arozarena - LF
  4. Josh Lowe - RF
  5. Manuel Margot - CF
  6. Curtis Mead - 3B
  7. Jonathan Aranda - DH
  8. Osleivis Basabe - SS
  9. Rene Pinto - C

It’s not going to be easy for the Orioles offense to turn it around in this series because every pitcher they’re going to face is tough. Tonight’s Rays starter Tyler Glasnow isn’t any exception. He’s got a 3.15 ERA and 1.041 WHIP across his 18 games pitched this season.