It’s an earlier than usual game time for the Orioles on Thursday to accommodate a post-game concert.
The Orioles best chance to play a little September spoiler against the Yankees was probably last night, with John Means pitching. They were so close, with a decent John Means start, a phenomenal home run robbery, a clutch go-ahead late-inning homer. And still they lost. Perhaps they will be able to pull off a more improbable victory somehow tonight.
Win or lose, the fact is that these Orioles have beaten these Yankees seven times so far this season. That’s hilarious. The Yankees not dominating the O’s like their divisional opponents have done is what may well keep them out of the postseason, or if they do make it into the playoffs, what will keep them as a road wild card team instead of a division winner.
New York only being 10-7 against the Orioles while the Rays went 18-1 is the difference in the AL East. That doesn’t have the immediate, satisfying finality of the 2011 Orioles knocking out the Red Sox on the final day of the season, but it is something.
As for tonight’s game, the Orioles lineup is once again without Trey Mancini, presumably because his oblique soreness has not healed. That’s a bummer. Pedro Severino is also once again out of the starting lineup. This fact bums me out less. Severino has been behind the dish for 781 innings and has failed to block 58 wild pitches, while being more directly responsible (as judged by official scorers) for ten passed balls.
The O’s did a little roster shuffling, in part in courtesy of the Yankees, prior to this game. They claimed reliever Brooks Kriske off of waivers. To make room on the 40-man roster, Jorge López, who is out for the season, was transferred to the 60-day injured list. Kriske’s MLB career has spanned 11.1 innings, leading to a 15.09 ERA and 10.3 BB/9. That may be the 2021 Orioles in a nutshell.
- Cedric Mullins – DH
- Ryan Mountcastle – 1B
- Austin Hays – LF
- Anthony Santander – RF
- Ramon Urias – 3B
- Ryan McKenna – CF
- Pat Valaika – 2B
- Austin Wynns – C
- Richie Martin – SS
Your lineup has got some problems if your #6 hitter is Ryan McKenna. So it goes for the Orioles. Whatever problems they have will not be addressed until the offseason, and it’s unclear how many of them the front office will even feel motivated to tackle for 2022 between CBA uncertainty and their own assessment of the O’s proximity (or lack of proximity) to a competitive window opening.
With Mullins as the DH, if there’s going to be a second consecutive game with a Spider-Man catch, it’ll have to be someone else doing it.
Pitching for the Orioles is Chris Ellis. This will be his fifth start. He has not made an impression on me yet so I don’t even know what to say about him. I suspect he is the sort of pitcher who will not maintain the significant gap between his ERA (2.08) and FIP (4.23) that currently exists. The Yankees sure feel like the kind of team that could make that adjustment for him in a single night.
- Brett Gardner – CF
- Giancarlo Stanton – LF
- Aaron Judge – DH
- Anthony Rizzo – 1B
- Gleyber Torres – 2B
- Joey Gallo – RF
- Gary Sanchez – C
- Tyler Wade – SS
- Gio Urshela – 3B
Starting for the Yankees is lefty Jordan Montgomery, who has a 3.71 ERA this season. This will be his fifth time appearing against the Orioles this season. The previous four saw him pitch to a 3.86 ERA in 18.2 innings. I think probably the O’s will need more runs than that in order to be able to win tonight’s game.