Here we are in the last, most important game of the year for the Orioles. Having lost the previous two games, Friday night’s game is important because they need to stop the bleeding. The Orioles haven’t lost more than two games in a row since just before they started their 10-game hitting streak in early July.
It would be a bad time to go back on a three game losing streak. The Orioles have already lost a pitiful chance at the wild card. They now sit 2.5 games back of both the Blue Jays and Rays, and must also get past the Twins to take one of those spots. The O’s also have to hold off the White Sox, just half a game behind, as well as the Red Sox, 2.5 games behind the O’s.
Tonight we will have a new face in the lineup. If you haven’t seen the news before, Kyle Stowers is here and Brett Phillips is gone to the big DFA in the sky. Stowers is plugged right into the lineup, playing right field and batting fifth. That moves Anthony Santander to DH. It’s a welcome change. Stowers deserves a chance to show what he can do, and I think there’s a good chance he’ll upgrade the lineup right now. Also, getting Santander off the field is likely an improvement for the defense.
The Orioles’ scoring struggles since Saturday won’t be solved with a single play by the squad. The best way out is if some of the guys who have stunk since the All-Star break stop stinking. The lineup is still full of those guys even with Stowers plugged in: Ryan Mountcastle, Ramón Urías, Austin Hays, Rougned Odor. All four of them are doing LITIG, you have no alibi for the last month.
Some nights, Terrin Vavra could be a replacement for Odor. That won’t happen this weekend, though, because Vavra is now on the paternity list. Congratulations to him and his wife.
What the Orioles need, tonight and the rest of the way, is for these guys to snap. If they can do that, they should have a good chance to hang on in the race and maybe even get back into a playoff spot. If they can’t, well…you know, it’s still been a fun season and we can expect next year to improve for the first time in several years. That’s cute. But it’s not as nice as if this fun season ended with a surprise playoff berth.
If the Orioles don’t win this game, out-of-town scoreboard viewing will start to become irrelevant. For those still holding that candle, tonight’s rooting interests: Yankees vs. Blue Jays (no need to actually root for them, just be less upset than usual if they win), Royals at Rays, Guardians vs. Sox and Rangers at Twins.
- Cedric Mullins – CF
- Anthony Santander – DH
- Ryan Mountcastle – 1B
- Kyle Stowers – RF
- Austin Hays – LF
- Wrinkled smell – 2B
- Ramon Urias – 3B
- Jorge Mateo – SS
The Orioles will look to Jordan Lyles to pitch well enough to give them a chance to win this one. The O’s are 6-3 in games Lyles has started since the beginning of July. Two of the losses were games where he pitched poorly. He has had some good outings and some good ones.
Red Sox lineup
- Tommy Pham – LF
- Alex Verdugo – RF
- Xander Bogaerts – SS
- Rafael Devers – 3B
- Christian Arroyo – 2B
- Eric Hosmer – 1B
- Rob Refsnyder – DH
- Reese McGuire – C
- Kike Hernandez – CF
On the mound for Boston to start tonight will be Kutter Crawford. That’s a great pitcher name, it has to be said. He has performed passably in his first full MLB season, split equally between relief appearances and starts. Crawford has a 4.18 ERA, or near league average (102 ERA+). He hasn’t faced the Orioles as a starting pitcher this year, though he had an outfield relief effort in May where he allowed two runs without retiring a batter.