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Orioles Game #137 Game Thread: at Angels, 9:38

A series against the Angels gets under way late on Monday back in Birdland

Baltimore Orioles v San Diego Padres Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

It is Labor Day and the Orioles are in first place. This fact remains fun to think about and to say. In some ways it is like the team is playing with house money. They have already eclipsed the expectation of “the experts” by far. They’ve already exceeded what they did last year. Relative to what even optimistic O’s fans might have imagined in March, this is delightful overachieving. They will remain in first place no matter what happens in tonight’s game.

With the Orioles having gotten this far, it would be nice if they can go farther. This is the tension for the remainder of the season for Orioles fans. Winning the division and avoiding the wild card round would be huge for this team. Not having to do the best-of-three coin flip is ideal. So is being able to set up the starting rotation how they want, to give banged up players a few days of rest, and so on.

If the Orioles are going to be able to do that, the four-game series against the Rays that starts at the end of next week is what looms large. Every win that they can get between now and then will be big. Maybe they can expand their cushion. Maybe they will need the wins to keep things where they are right now. Getting wins against an opponent like the Angels is crucial because most remaining series will not come against teams who’ve historically punted on the last month of the season.

This game begins with the Red Sox having done the Orioles a favor already today. They beat the Rays, 7-3, earlier on Monday. The O’s have a chance to increase their AL East lead if they can manage to beat the Angels tonight. At a minimum, we know they will lose no ground today. The magic number to clinch the AL East stands at 23.

Grayson Rodriguez, tonight’s Orioles starting pitcher, continuing his string of second half success would certainly be a big help to putting another one in the win column for the Orioles tonight. So would the offense putting together a good game against 28-year-old rookie Angels lefty Kenny Rosenberg. That’s a guy who’s not pitching for a team that’s trying, which doesn’t mean he’s incapable of doing enough to stop the O’s hitters.

Orioles lineup

  1. Austin Hays - LF
  2. Anthony Santander - DH
  3. Ryan Mountcastle - 1B
  4. Gunnar Henderson - 3B
  5. Jordan Westburg - 2B
  6. Aaron Hicks - RF
  7. Cedric Mullins - CF
  8. James McCann - C
  9. Jorge Mateo - SS

Note the day off for Adley Rutschman. This is a weird-looking lineup and I hope it works out for the Orioles.

Angels lineup

  1. Nolan Schanuel - 1B
  2. Brandon Drury - DH
  3. Luis Rengifo - RF
  4. Mike Moustakas - 3B
  5. Logan O’Hoppe - C
  6. Michael Stefanic - 2B
  7. Mickey Moniak - CF
  8. Randal Grichuk - LF
  9. Kyren Paris - SS

This is also a weird-looking lineup and I hope it doesn’t work out for the Angels.