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Wednesday afternoon Orioles game thread: @ Astros, 2:10 ET

The O’s try to keep wreaking havoc in the AL West and clinch the AL East title.

Houston Astros v Baltimore Orioles
Kyle Bradish gets doused with Gatorade after defeating the Houston Astros on September 22, 2022.
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

No doubt about it, this last week or so has been one of the scariest portions of the Orioles’ schedule down the stretch: four make-or-break games against Tampa Bay followed by three against the defending World Champion Houston Astros.

So far, so good. Last weekend, the Orioles stormed back to take the last two against Tampa Bay and clinch the season series, and Monday and Tuesday’s contests in Houston worked out pretty well, you could say. Scoring three runs off 2022 Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander on Monday before pulling off a three-run comeback in the ninth? Yeah, these Birds aren’t scared of anybody.

Today, the Orioles-Astros play an early one in deference to travel schedules. Kyle Bradish takes the mound, his first start since an “indifferent” (his word, not mine) four-run, seven-inning outing against Tampa Bay last week. Against the Rays, Bradish sustained early hard contact and allowed a go-ahead home run in the seventh. But the fact that that was a dip for Bradish at all speaks to his consistent excellence at the top of the rotation this season: he’s 11-7 with a 3.12 ERA, a 1.09 WHIP and 150 strikeouts in 152 innings.

Cristian Javier’s stunning 2022 season (a 2.54 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 11.74 K/9 in 25 starts) was overshadowed by his teammate Verlander, but this season hasn’t been quite the same. The Astros right hander is allowing close to five runs a game and his strikeout rate per game has dropped by over three (8.49). He’s got a 5.40 ERA this month. A lefty-heavy Orioles lineup will hope to take advantage.

With a victory today, the Orioles will make big winners of the 6% of CC readers who predicted a series sweep.

Orioles lineup

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

Astros lineup

1. José Altuve 2B
2. Jeremy Peña SS
3. Kyle Tucker RF
4. Alex Bregman 3B
5. José Abreu 1B
6. Yainer Díaz DH
7. Chas McCormick LF
8. Jake Meyers CF
9. Martín Maldonado C