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Orioles notes: Bourn atop batting order, tough roster decision, pitching matchups

Orioles right fielder Michael Bourn has spent most of his big league career hitting out of the leadoff spot, but he hadn't hit atop the lineup in his month-plus with the Orioles until Sunday's regular-season finale.

But Bourn has been a spark — he entered Sunday having reached base in each of his past six plate appearances after a two-hit, two-walk game Saturday in New York — so manager Buck Showalter decided to place him atop the Orioles lineup against the Yankees in Game 162.

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"It's fun," Bourn said. "To be part of a pennant race and have a chance to go to the playoffs and play meaningful games this time of the year, I don't take it for granted. I'm happy about it. Just go out there and play baseball and enjoy it while you're out there."

Bourn entered Sunday having reached base in 10 of his past 17 plate appearances. Over his previous five games, he was 6-for-13 with four walks, three RBIs and two stolen bases.

First pitch, broadcast info, starting pitchers, lineups and what to watch in the Orioles' game against the Yankees.

"Mike's in a good place right now," Showalter said. "Just something we were thinking about. He's been on base. He's been doing some things well, and it just seemed like it would be a good fit. He has more experience at it than anybody we have. We were doing pretty good with Adam there, and Adam doesn't care as long as he's [among the] one through nine."

Bourn, who was acquired Aug. 31 in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks, has spent most of this season hitting in the No. 2 hole. He hasn't started at the leadoff spot since Aug. 3.

Considering where he was at the beginning of the regular season, Bourn is more than happy to be contributing. He was released by the Atlanta Braves and was unsigned on Opening Day, then played in the Toronto Blue Jays' minor league system before opting out of his deal and latching on with Arizona.

"How it did start, yeah, it feels good," Bourn said. "Just continue to fight and continue to battle and continue to do all I can to play baseball. It's a game I've been able to play for a long time, even going back to it as a kid. It's just the opportunity you get, and everybody doesn't get to play in the big leagues. I was blessed, and I was able to play here. I'm thankful just for that, so all the opportunities I get I just try to go out there and let my light shine."

Figuring out rosters: Showalter said he sat down with executive vice president Dan Duquette Saturday to discuss 25-man rosters for a possible American League wild-card game.

If the Orioles end up having to play a tiebreaker game to get into the playoffs, they still can play with an expanded roster, but before each postseason series, all teams must submit a 25-player roster. Because the wild-card round is just one game, Showalter can stack his team with relievers, as he has to carry just one starting pitcher.

"They're all tough" decisions, Showalter said. "That's what's tough this time of the year. You know everyone would love to be dealing with 25 [players] over 35 players. When you've got somebody who's been with you all year and all of a sudden [you have to tell them they've not on the playoff roster], those are like the spring training conversations. You don't look forward to any of them. Our guys understand, but it still stings."

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Some players could end up going to the team's spring training complex in Sarasota, Fla., to continue to work out if a replacement is needed. Others could stay with the Orioles' travel party, even though they're not on the 25-man roster for the series.

"As much as you don't want to do it, you have to do it and be prepared for it," Showalter said. "The problem is that if you get to actual wild card, you have a different dynamic, because you have to wait to see who you're facing. There might be some changes in your personnel."

Wild-card pitching: Showalter said the Orioles have a tentative starter for Tuesday's wild-card game, but that could change based on whether the team will have to play a tiebreaker, as well as their opponent and the location. He declined to identify the pitcher.

"I haven't gotten that [written] in stone, but I have a pretty good feeling of which way we go," Showalter said. "We could come out of today with some other options. We'll see how it all shakes out."

Right-hander Chris Tillman would be in line to start the Orioles' next game, but right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez would be an option for a wild-card game in Toronto because he pitched 6 2/3 shutout innings Thursday at the Rogers Centre.

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