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Orioles pregame news: O's can still clinch wild-card game at home by winning out

By Eduardo A. Encina

The Baltimore Sun

6:11 PM EDT, October 2, 2012

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.  -- The Orioles have plenty to play for in tonight's game against the Tampa Bay Rays here at Tropicana Field.

Along with trying to catch up in the AL East race, the Orioles can still earn at least a wild-card home game Friday if they win their final two regular season games, because the A's and Rangers are playing each other.

If the Orioles lose tonight, and the Yankees and Oakland win, the Orioles can do no better than go on the road for a wild-card game.

-- Looking ahead, Orioles right-hander Jason Hammel said his right knee feels good after Monday's 73-pitch simulated game in instructional league. He would be a likely starter for an ALDS Game 1 if the Orioles advance. Hammel said he hasn't been told of any pitch count limitations.

-- Rays manager Joe Maddon sent Orioles manager Buck Showalter a bottle of wine and a congratulatory note after Monday's game. Despite his team being eliminated from playoff contention Monday night, Maddon said the Rays will stay play to win the next two games. "They wouldn't expect is any other way," Maddon said.

-- Orioles first-round pick Kevin Gausman threw a pregame bullpen session before the game. Gausman, the No. 4 overall pick this June, has been pitching in instructional league and has two more starts before shutting down. Gausman, who ended the minor league season at Double-A Bowie, said his goal is to make his major league debut next season, like 2011 first rounder Dylan Bundy did this year.

Here are tonight's starting lineups:

Orioles
Nate McLouth LF
J.J. Hardy SS
Chris Davis RF
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
Jim Thome DH
Mark Reynolds 1B
Ryan Flaherty 2B
Manny Machado 3B
Miguel Gonzalez RHP

Rays
Desmond Jennings LF
B.J. Upton CF
Ben Zobrist SS
Evan Longoria 3B
Jeff Keppinger 1B
Matt Joyce RF
Ryan Roberts 2B
Luke Scott DH
Chris Gimenez C
James Shields RHP