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Orioles on deck: What to watch Friday at Athletics

Josh Land
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

Orioles (57-58) vs. Athletics (50-65)

Where: Oakland Coliseum

First pitch: 10:05 p.m.

TV/Radio: MASN2/105.7 The Fan

Starting pitchers: Orioles RHP Ubaldo Jiménez (5-7, 6.31 ERA) vs. Athletics RHP Paul Blackburn (3-1, 2.60)

What to watch

1. Davis returns. Struggling slugger Chris Davis ended up getting one mental health day off and is back in the lineup. And he’s getting eased back in, in a sense, as Buck Showalter dropped him to seventh in the batting order for the first time this season. All but one of Davis’ starts this year have come batting fourth or fifth this season, with the other coming in the No. 2 hole. Davis hasn’t batted that low in the lineup since Aug. 29, 2014, when he also batted seventh. Perhaps it will help him come out of his 2-for-23 drought while hotter hitters fill out the middle of the order.

2. First look. The Orioles get their first look at rookie right-hander Paul Blackburn, one of the few bright spots for the Athletics this season. Blackburn, 23, was a 2012 first-round draft pick of the Chicago Cubs and joined the A's rotation at the beginning of July. In his first seven major league starts, he has five quality starts and a 2.60 ERA. He has pitched into the sixth inning in every outing, and into at least the seventh four times, including in each of his past three starts.

3. Keep moving. Ubaldo Jiménez takes the mound in search of his fourth straight good start, and if he provides it, he could help the Orioles be on the verge of moving into playoff position. The Orioles come in 1½ games out of the second wild-card spot with another opportunity to push the leaders in a tight race.

Orioles lineup

SS Tim Beckham

3B Manny Machado

2B Jonathan Schoop

CF Adam Jones

LF Trey Mancini

DH Mark Trumbo

1B Chris Davis

RF Seth Smith

C Caleb Joseph

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