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Red Sox at Orioles lineups: Just hold on

If the Sox can beat the 107-loss Orioles, they can hold onto their wildcard spot for another day.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The wildcard race is as intense as I can remember, with four teams in legitimate contention with just four games left. The Red Sox threw away a chance at a sweep in Baltimore with a loss on Tuesday, and will now be looking to win the series against an Orioles team with 107 losses. I really hope they can do that.

Nick Pivetta (9-7, 4.52 ERA) will make his final start of the regular season in this one. He’s essentially playing in a do-or-die playoff game, just against a team that is currently 47 games back of first place. His fastball, curveball, and slider have all been above average pitches this year so theoretically he should have no problem putting away this lackluster Orioles lineup.

The biggest advantage for Pivetta will be behind the plate. Pivetta will be throwing to Kevin Plawecki tonight, with whom he has seemingly had a better rapport than his counterpart Christian Vázquez. This season Pivetta has a 2.68 ERA with Plawecki behind the dish compared to a 5.28 ERA with Vázquez.

The Orioles will trot out, get this, another soft-throwing left-handed pitcher. Alexander Wells (1-3, 7.61 ERA) looks to stand in the way of a Red Sox postseason birth. His average fastball sits at 88.8 MPH and has a .329 batting average against. Wells’s curveball is his second most used pitched and is hit at a .407 clip. The weirdest part about Wells’s game is that his third pitch is by far his most effective. His slider has a .194 batting average against with a 24.6% whiff percentage. If someone in the Orioles organization would pass that along he might be able to bring that hefty ERA down. His fourth pitch is a changeup with a .346 batting average against but a 20% whiff percentage. In other words, just lay off the slider (talking to you Martinez). Wells is a swingman for the Orioles and has only reached the sixth inning once in his seven starts.

As for the lineup, I’m frankly a little confused. Alex Cora has deployed his left-handed heavy lineup versus a left-handed pitcher. Kyle Schwarber is playing first and batting second, while Bobby Dalbec starts the night on the bench. Alex Verdugo will also be in the lineup, batting seventh. He has been indirectly platooning with Dalbec lately. I also am a little surprised by the heavy usage of José Iglesias this close to a potential wildcard game. I understand riding the hot hand, but Christian Arroyo needs some playing time to have a chance to play well in the postseason.

Game 159 Red Sox @ Orioles

Lineup spot Red Sox Orioles
Lineup spot Red Sox Orioles
1 Kiké Hernández, CF Cedric Mullins, CF
2 Kyle Schwarber, 1B Ryan Mountcastle, 1B
3 Xander Bogaerts, SS Austin Hays, RF
4 Rafael Devers, 3B Trey Mancini, DH
5 J.D. Martinez, DH Pedro Severino, C
6 Hunter Renfroe, RF Kelvin Gutierrez, 3B
7 Alex Verdugo, LF Tyler Nevin, LF
8 Kevin Plawecki, C Pat Valaika, SS
9 José Iglesias, 2B Jahmai Jones, 2B
SP Nick Pivetta, RHP Alexander Wells, LHP