(Photo credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports)
The Baltimore Orioles host the Washington Nationals in the finale of their two-game set Wednesday night, with a chance to clinch the American League East title.
Baltimore (98-59) reduced its magic number to two games when it defeated the Nationals 1-0 on Tuesday night. The Tampa Bay Rays kept pace with a 9-7 win over the Boston Red Sox, but the math is not on their side.
With an Orioles win and a Rays loss, Baltimore can lock up its first division crown since 2014 and secure the top seed in the AL playoffs.
Rookie right-hander Grayson Rodriguez (6-4, 4.49 ERA) starts for the Orioles while left-hander Patrick Corbin (10-14, 5.13) goes for Washington.
Rodriguez was 2-2 with 7.35 ERA after giving up eight earned runs against the Texas Rangers on May 26 and was sent to the minors. Since returning, Rodriguez has gone 4-2 with a 2.66 ERA in 12 starts.
Last time out, he allowed two earned runs in five innings of a no-decision against the Cleveland Guardians.
Corbin, 34, is on the verge of finishing his third consecutive season leading NL pitchers in losses. Since being a key cog in the 2019 World Series champion Nationals rotation, Corbin has gone 27-56 with a 5.60 ERA.
After two solid outings, Corbin allowed five earned runs on five hits - including two home runs - in 4 1/3 innings of a loss to the Atlanta Braves.
"Obviously they have one of the best lineups in the game," Corbin said. "You try to make your pitches. Sometimes you do, sometimes you don't. ... Just got to try and move on from this one."
Corbin is 1-4 with a 4.93 ERA in eight games - seven starts - vs. the Orioles.
On Tuesday night, Gunnar Henderson homered and Kyle Bradish pitched eight strong innings for Baltimore.
Bradish, who tossed 104 pitches, lowered his ERA to 2.86; he has thrown 14 scoreless innings over his past two starts.
"It seemed like it was weak contact all the time and fundamental plays on defense, and I feel like he's been doing that ... all year," Henderson said. "It's been really fun to play behind him. Just can't appreciate him enough for going out there and just going eight strong."
The Nationals got a strong effort from their starter, Josiah Gray, who gave up one run over six innings. Gray, 25, finished the season 8-13 with a 3.91 ERA and made his first NL All-Star team.
"I think anytime you can finish on a strong outing, it takes you into the offseason with a positive mindset," Gray said. "I've been able to have a last couple good outings, but this one feels sweet going into the offseason knowing some of the changes I've made over the last three outings have bred results."
A moment of silence was observed before the game to mourn the passing of Orioles legend and MLB Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson, who died Tuesday at the age of 86.
"It was definitely sad news," Bradish said. "He means so much to the city and this team. He's been around us for the past few years. So getting that news right before the game was tough, but we were able to squeak out a victory -- and it's only right that the defense was working today."
--Field Level Media