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Wednesday night Orioles game thread: vs. Nationals, 6:35

Clinchmas is imminent for the Birds as they try to sweep the two-game set with their interleague rivals.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Baltimore Orioles Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Sept. 27, 2023, and I don’t know about you, but I think it’s a great day to clinch the AL East.

The Orioles’ magic number is 2, which means if they beat the Nationals tonight — and get some help from the Red Sox against the Rays at Fenway — the Birds will officially be division champs for the first time since 2014.

The O’s have got the right guy on the mound to fulfill their part of the deal. Grayson Rodriguez has a 2.66 ERA and .589 opponents’ OPS in his 12 outings since his minor league reset, including eight shutout innings against the Rays in his most recent home start. He’ll aim to continue the Orioles’ season-long shutout of the Nationals, whom they’ve defeated by scores of 1-0, 4-0, and 1-0 again in their three matchups this year. This will be Rodriguez’s final start of the regular season before he (presumably) starts Game 2 of the Orioles’ first playoff series.

The Nats counter with veteran lefty Patrick Corbin, who’s wrapping up his fourth straight disappointing season after helping lead Washington to a championship in 2019. He’s surrendered 100 earned runs for the third straight season and 200 hits for the second straight, and he leads the league in losses for the third straight year. To his credit, Corbin throws a lot of innings every year. The problem is that those innings are mostly bad. On paper, he should help the Orioles’ bats heat up after scoring just one run last night.

The Rays’ game in Boston begins at 6:10, about 25 minutes before the Orioles get under way. In a perfect world, a Rays loss in Boston will go final before the O’s record the last out of a victory over the Nats, allowing the club to celebrate a clincher on the Camden Yards field with the fans. Baseball doesn’t always work out that way, of course, and the Rays aren’t going to roll over to the Sox. Still, the Orioles can at least do their part by winning tonight and let the chips fall where they may.

Even if the O’s don’t clinch, it’ll be an emotional night as the Orioles pay tribute to the late, great Brooks Robinson. The Birds will wear his #5 on their uniform sleeves, and the number is also hanging from the warehouse as well as painted behind third base. Baltimore will never forget you, Brooks.

Orioles lineup:

LF Austin Hays
DH Adley Rutschman
1B Anthony Santander
RF Aaron Hicks
3B Gunnar Henderson
2B Jordan Westburg
C James McCann
CF Cedric Mullins
SS Jorge Mateo

RHP Grayson Rodriguez

Nationals lineup:

SS CJ Abrams
RF Lane Thomas
C Keibert Ruiz
DH Joey Meneses
2B Luis Garcia
1B Dominic Smith
3B Ildemaro Vargas
LF Jake Alu
CF Jacob Young

LHP Patrick Corbin