BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Orioles will look to complete a three-game sweep of the Texas Rangers in a battle of first-place teams on Thursday.
The Orioles won the opener 5-1 with the help of four solo homers and a masterful performance by starter Dylan Bundy. Kevin Gausman then outdueled Texas ace Cole Hamels, leading the Orioles to a 3-2 victory the following night.
Wade Miley (7-8, 4.98 ERA), acquired from the Seattle Mariners on Aug. 1, will make his Orioles debut and try to keep the momentum going in the series finale.
“We're playing some good teams,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “If you look at our schedule, it's a top-rated schedule the rest of the way. You know what? Our guys are pretty good, too. They enjoy the competition. They don't shirk from it. They like people telling them they shouldn't be able to do it. They like proving people wrong. They've done that for quite a while.”
Wiley is expected to give the Orioles an immediate boost as the only left-hander in the rotation and his ability to throw deep into games — an area where Baltimore has struggled all season. Left-handers are also batting just .239 against him this season.
“We needed a left-handed pitcher to complement our rotation, and Wade's a workhorse,” Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said. “He's pitched in the American League effectively. He's got all the qualities to help our club, and not just for this year, for next year. We've liked his skills for a while, going back to the first winter meetings. We tried to acquire him in a trade with Arizona. And he had a terrific year.”
The Rangers will look to avoid the sweep with right-hander A.J. Griffin (4-1, 3.99 ERA), who is beginning to regain his form after an earlier stint on the disabled list with right shoulder stiffness. Griffin picked up his first win since April 26 in his last outing against the Kansas City Royals. He gave up two runs in 5 2/3 innings.
Griffin joined Hamels as the only Rangers starter to post a win in July. Griffin hopes to play a key role in the first-place Rangers' stretch run toward the playoffs.
“You can't take this job for granted,” Griffin told the Fort Worth Star Telegram after the game. “There's someone always trying to take your job from you. To be part of something that's great like we have here in Texas right now, you're scratching and clawing to stay around.”
The Rangers boosted their lineup with the addition of Carlos Beltran and Jonathan Lucroy at the trade deadline. Their lineup, however, has been mostly contained by Orioles pitching. Manager Jeff Banister is hopeful that will change in the final regular-season game between the teams.
“This is a quality lineup, they're going to hit and put runs up on the board,” Banister said of the Orioles. “You have to pitch to go out and pitch your best game.”