Weather could play key role in play­off drive

Rain ex­pected for all of Yan­kees se­ries; Gaus­man to start Sun­day

Baltimore Sun - - ORIOLES - By Ed­uardo A. Encina eencina@balt­ twit­­dieInTheYard

TORONTO — Fig­ur­ing out the sce­nar­ios the Ori­oles could face over the next sev­eral days is be­ing made even more com­pli­cated by fore­casts call­ing for bad weather this week­end in New York.

The Ori­oles are sched­uled to play their last three reg­u­lar-sea­son games this week­end at Yankee Sta­dium, and all three could be im­por­tant in de­ter­min­ing whether the club makes the post­sea­son. The forecast in New York is call­ing for rain all three days.

Ma­jor League Base­ball re­quires all 162 games to be played if a game af­fects post­sea­son seed­ing or home-field ad­van­tage. If a game doesn’t have that kind of im­pact, those games don’t have to be played.

The Ori­oles beat Toronto on Thurs­day night, 4-0, to move into a tie with the Blue Jays for the first Amer­i­can League wild card and home-field ad­van­tage in the wild-card game, with three games re­main­ing in the reg­u­lar sea­son. The Blue Jays and Ori­oles have a 11⁄ game lead over the Detroit Tigers, whose game Thurs­day against the Cleve­land In­di­ans was post­poned be­cause of rain.

The AL wild-card game is sched­uled for Tues­day, but MLB is pre­pared to bump the game to Wed­nes­day if other games must be fit in be­fore then.

Ori­oles man­ager Buck Showal­ter said his team is more fo­cused on con­trol­ling its own future than on all the pos­si­ble sce­nar­ios that might ex­ist.

“There’s cer­tain stuff you have to be ahead of, like po­ten­tial travel,” Showal­ter said. “[Travel sec­re­tary] Kevin [ Buck] does a great job of that, but it’s only a chal­lenge if you cre­ate one. It doesn’t mat­ter if we don’t do what we have to do. No­body’s talk­ing about that. It’s not a topic [of con­ver­sa­tion]. It’s about tonight’s game and to­mor­row’s game and the next game and the smoke clears on Sun­day. We’ll see where we stand and we ad­just to it and go.”

Even af­ter play­ing the full 162-game sched­ule, the Ori­oles could still face a tiebreak­ing “Game 163” if they are one of two teams with iden­ti­cal records tied for the sec­ond wild card. If the Ori­oles and Tigers have the same record af­ter 162 games, a tiebreaker would be played at Cam­den Yards on Tues­day. But if the Ori­oles and Mariners are tied, the Ori­oles would have to travel to Seat­tle to play a tiebreaker. Home field in tiebreaker games is de­cided by head-to-head reg­u­lar-sea­son records.

Any tiebreaker against the Tigers would be played Tues­day re­gard­less, open­ing the door for the Ori­oles to fin­ish any post­poned games in New York on Mon­day, push­ing a tiebreaker sce­nario, if needed, to Tues­day and the wild-card game to Wed­nes­day. Gaus­man sched­uled for Sun­day: Ori­oles right-han­der Kevin Gaus­man threw a bullpen ses­sion be­fore Thurs­day’s game, mean­ing he is sched­uled to start Sun­day’s reg­u­lar-sea­son fi­nale at Yankee Sta­dium.

Sev­eral fac­tors, in­clud­ing weather, could change that sce­nario, but Gaus­man is pre­pared to start Sun­day.

“He is a can­di­date for Sun­day,” Showal­ter said. “We’ll see how things progress. He’s pre­par­ing for that.”

If Gaus­man starts Sun­day as ex­pected, it would give him 30 starts this sea­son, which was one of his sta­tis­ti­cal goals at the be­gin­ning of the year.

Gaus­man has had great suc­cess against the Yan­kees. In two starts at Yankee Sta­dium this sea­son, he’s 1-1 with a 1.32 ERA, 15 strike­outs and one walk over 132⁄ in­nings. In 341⁄ ca­reer in­nings at Yankee Sta­dium, Gaus­man has a 2.36 ERA.

As ex­pected, left-han­der Wade Mi­ley, who is away from the club for the birth of his first child, had a work day on his own Thurs­day in Louisiana and is sched­uled to start Satur­day in New York. Gaus­man Around the horn: With his pinch-hit two-run homer in the ninth in­ning of Wed­nes­day’s game, Hyun Soo Kim is 6-for-9 with two walks as a pinch hit­ter. Ac­cord­ing to the Elias Sports Bu­reau, he is the fourth ac­tive player to be­gin his ca­reer with six hits in his first nine pinch-hit at-bats. The oth­ers are the Pitts­burgh Pi­rates’ Josh Bell, the Hous­ton Astros’ Evan Gat­tis and the San Fran­cisco Gi­ants’ De­nard Span. ... The Ori­oles are 38-35 against the AL East.

Starters: Kevin Gaus­man (8-12, 3.66) vs. Yan­kees’ TBA

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