The Orioles have already won the season series with the Chicago White Sox. They can seal their eighth series win in their last 10 with a win tonight.
More importantly, the Orioles head into tonight's game against the White Sox with a change to cut the New Yankees AL East lead to 2 1/2 games with a win tonight after New York's 8-5 afternoon loss to the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium.
The last time the Orioles were just 2 1/2 games back? The 72nd game of the season, after a 2-1 win ove r the Nationals on June 24.
Newly acquired left-hander Joe Saunders will be making his Orioles debut tonight. He grew up in Northern Virginia as an Orioles fan, so expect a warm reception here from the crowd.
Here's what's going on around the Orioles clubhouse:
-- Orioles manager Buck Showalter indicated that top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy will not be a September call-up, but instead remain with Double-A Bowie through the Baysox's likely postseason run and then report to instructional league in Sarasota. Read more on that HERE.
-- Right-hander Miguel Gonzalez threw a pullpen session today, meaning he's a definite go to start Friday's series opener against the Yankees in the Bronx. Gonzalez hasn't pitched since last Monday, but he said he'd remained on schedule with pen sessions.
-- Showalter mentioned left-handed reliever Zach Phillips as a possible September call-up. Phillips, who was one of the final cuts this spring, has pitched eight scoreless outings in his last 10 apperances.
-- Designated hitter Jim Thome is continuing to progress from a herniated disk in his neck. He had also dealt with some soreness in his lower back, which Showalter said is from inactivity. He is expected to pick up a bat within the next day or so.
Here are tonight's starting lineups:
Nick Markakis RF
J.J. Hardy SS
Nate McLouth LF
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
Chris Davis DH
Mark Reynolds 1B
Omar Quintanilla 2B
Manny Machado 3B
Joe Saunders LHP
Dewayne Wise CF
Kevin Youkilis 3B
Adam Dunn DH
Paul Konerko 1B
Alex Rios RF
Dayan Viciedo LF
Alexei Ramirez SS
Tyler Flowers C
Gordon Beckham 2B
Dylan Axelrod RHP