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Orioles thoughts and observations heading into Sunday's series finale in Boston

BOSTON — For the Orioles to avoid a Fenway Park sweep on Sunday afternoon, they will have to get past Boston Red Sox rookie right-hander Henry Owens.

If the recent past is any indication, it will be a challenge. Owens is 3-3 with a 4.41 ERA in nine big league starts this season, but he dominated the Orioles last week at Camden Yards, throwing 7 2/3 scoreless innings and allowing just six hits. Owens struck out four and walked none.

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Right now, the Orioles just need to get some runs on the scoreboard first. They will go into Sunday's series finale with a 19-inning scoreless streak dating to the eighth inning of Thursday's win over the Washington Nationals.

"We swung it better in Washington, but we just went through a two-game period here where we haven't done much offensively," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "I'll be the first to tip my hat to the other team, but we're capable of better."

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September baseball has a unique dynamic to it. No team would be able to use seven pitchers without expanded rosters, but the Red Sox did a good job of it Saturday, holding the Orioles to five hits in their 8-0 shutout loss.

The Orioles bullpen allowed six unearned runs because of three errors, but no one would have predicted in spring training that right-handers Oliver Drake and Jorge Rondon, who both spent most of this season at Triple-A Norfolk, would be pitching significant innings in any must-win game in September.

But it happened Saturday. Darren O'Day received his second straight day off after closing all three games in Washington and closer Zach Britton, who was available after missing four games with a nagging left lat muscle injury, would have only come in to pitch in a save situation.

"We did some things pitching-wise without Zach," Showalter said. "The good news is Darren was not available again today, but Zach was. Hopefully, we'll get that back on his feet, but if we don't score any runs, there won't be any need for him."

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The absence of center fielder Adam Jones, who has missed the past five games with back spasms, definitely hurts. The Orioles were able to overcome the loss of Jones in Washington, but his bat could have jolted the offense. He is a .292/.341/.475 career hitter against the Red Sox and his 21 homers against them are his second-most against any opponent (Toronto Blue Jays, 29).

Jones is 8-for-16 in four games at Fenway Park this season and is a .410 hitter (25-for-61) in Boston since the beginning of the 2014 season.

Expect another late lineup card today as the Orioles evaluate Jones again pregame.

eencina@baltsun.com
twitter.com/EddieInTheYard

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