It's the last series of the regular season. From 2017 to 2022, that would signal the end of the season for the Baltimore Orioles. Not this time. The Orioles host a division rival in the Boston Red Sox as they look to clinch the AL East and a wild card round bye in the process.
Division rivals last team to face expected top seed O's
Thanks to a Beltway Series sweep of the Nationals, Brandon Hyde and his young squad are one game away from two major achievements. The first is that they will get their 100th win of the season, something not achieved by the Birds since 1980. Secondly, the magic number for the Orioles to clinch both the American League East and the top spot in their playoff bracket is down to one. A packed OPACY will be ready to witness history.
Game 1: Dean Kremer vs. Chris Sale
Thursday night at 6:35 PM EST is set for an enormous moment. Kremer, who is sitting on a 12-5 record, is an almost fitting pitcher to be on the mound. Only Kyle Bradish has played with the club the entire year and put up better numbers. Sale has been consistent for the Red Sox this campaign, but a consistent batting order of heavy hitters such as Gunnar Henderson and Anthony Santander could create that historic moment.
Game 2: John Means vs. Nick Pivetta
Means will get the start Friday night at 7:05 PM EST. He has been impressive since his long-awaited return and Pivetta's 4.25 ERA does not bode well against Means' 2.60. The Oriole southpaw, in his limited innings, boasts an undeniable 0.81 WHIP.
This game might not be too important if the Birds win on Thursday, but Boston's bats will have a hard time getting hot regardless with the 30-year-old displaying a wide arsenal of untouchable pitches.
Game 3: Kyle Gibson vs. Kutter Crawford
This could very well be Gibson's last appearance until 2024. At 15-9, he has served the O's well. His 4.86 ERA, however, will not make the cut in October. Hyde will likely utilize a 3-4 man rotation in the postseason, and Gibson is not pitching as well as Means, Kremer, Bradish and Grayson Rodriguez. The bats owe him a farewell. Crawford's 6-8 record suggests that a farewell victory is not so far-fetched. First pitch is at 7:15 PM EST.
Game 4: Kyle Bradish* vs. Tanner Houck
Bradish has a very small likelihood of starting Sunday afternoon. Birdland's ace will be pivotal in a playoff run. There is a debate about how long he should rest, and so there remains a small chance that the 27-year-old will not ride the bench until the ALDS starting date of October 7th. That is only six days after the last game of Baltimore's historic season. Tune in at 3:05 PM EST for Hyde and the boys' final regular season game.
A historic campaign
Regardless of whether or not the Birds get swept by or roll over the Red Sox, the 162 challenges they faced were easily brushed aside. Heading into October 7th there is plenty to look forward to. Gunnar Henderson will win Rookie of the Year. Kyle Bradish will finish close, but ultimately just short of the American League Cy Young award. Several others are on shortlists for personal awards, and with a pipeline of talented minor league players, the end is nowhere in sight for Birdland.