The Orioles eventually concluded their celebration yesterday and boarded a flight to Houston. Baltimore’s focus will be put to the test in the first of a three-game series against the Astros.
The ‘Stros have yet to officially clinch a postseason berth, and they lead the AL West by only 1.5 games. The Orioles are still looking to sure up the AL East, but Houston will enter the series in pursuit of their only lofty goals.
You can read more about the three-game set in Mark Brown’s series preview here.
John Means will take the mound today for his second start this season. The lefty completed five innings while allowing three runs on five hits against St. Louis last week. The Orioles would absolutely love to see an outing indicative of a pitcher ready to make his mark in the postseason.
Baltimore will face a pitcher that has left his mark on plenty of postseasons already in his career. Justin Verlander will look to keep a potentially tired Baltimore lineup in check this evening.
Gunnar Henderson will return to the leadoff spot and play third base. Speedster Jorge Mateo will play short, with Jordan Westburg getting the start against the three-time Cy Young Award winner.
Ryan O’Hearn will play first base with rookie Heston Kjerstad slotted at DH. Ryan Mountcastle will remain on the bench with a shoulder injury. Anthony Santander will get a much needed rest today after going just 3-for-30 in his last seven games. Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins and Aaron Hicks will complete the outfield, with Adley Rutschman set to catch Means.
The Rays are off today, so the Orioles have an opportunity to extend their lead by half a game. The series could represent a potential playoff preview, and Baltimore can set the tone with a victory tonight.
- Gunnar Henderson 3B
- Adley Rutschman C
- Ryan O’Hearn 1B
- Austin Hays LF
- Cedric Mullins CF
- Aaron Hicks RF
- Jordan Westburg 2B
- Heston Kjerstad DH
- Jorge Mateo SS
Starter: LHP John Means