Pregame notes and quotes

With a win tonight, the Orioles would move to within 2 1/2 games of the first-place Yankees in the American League East. The Blue Jays posted an 8-5 victory in the Bronx earlier today.

Also, the Orioles would be 15 games above .500 for the first time since the end of the 1997 season, when they posted a 98-64 record and reached the American League Championship Series for the second consecutive year.

The Orioles are 16-8 in August, their most wins in any month this season. They won 15 games in May.

The Orioles are seeking their fifth consecutive win, which would tie their longest streak of the season. They also won five in a row on May 1-6, May 15-19, June 9-14, July 18-22 and Aug. 4-8. They haven’t won six straight since Aug. 22-28, 2011.

The rotation is set up for left-hander Joe Saunders to start tonight and left-hander Zach Britton on Thursday, followed by Miguel Gonzalez on Friday in New York and left-hander Wei-Yin Chen on Saturday. Sunday is listed as TBA. Chris Tillman would be working on normal rest after pitching last night.

Designated hitter Jim Thome is still expected to swing a bat on Thursday in Sarasota.

“He’s ready to get back in the flow of it again,” said manager Buck Showalter. “That was good to hear. He seems to be in good spirits.”

Thome believes the recent soreness and weakness in his lat muscle was a product of inactivity.

“He thinks he’s going to be able to get something going now,” Showalter said.

Jason Hammel’s right knee continues to feel good, and he’ll start Saturday night at Single-A Frederick.

Infielder Wilson Betemit is slated to play tonight and Thursday at Double-A Bowie, which can clinch an Eastern League playoff berth tonight with a win or a Richmond loss.

Asked for an update on left-hander Randy Wolf, Showalter said, “I think he’s going to be here today. He’s basically kind of like a free agent. He’s going to throw, I think, either today or tomorrow and we’ll get our arms around where he is. I think there’s a chance he could be activated. I know Dan (Duquette) and he and his agent have been talking. I know that, from my perspective, for him to be eligible (for the playoffs), he’s got to appear on our roster by Aug. 31, so keep that in mind.

“He had options and this is where he chose to come. I think he’s capable of doing some good things for us. I’ve always liked him. Athletic, very professional, executor of pitches.”

Showalter wants a second left-hander in the bullpen, but he said, “We’ll look at Randy as a starter initially, and it’s also an option, too, for him to relieve. We’ve got some people. I know Zach Phillips is really throwing the ball well down in Norfolk, so he’s an option for us.

“Obviously, we have some (40-man) roster issues, with Randy and someone like Zach if we decide to do that. I know Dan and I have semi-finalized the list of what we’re going to do on the 1st and then after that, too, when everybody is coming.”

Outfielder Endy Chavez is “being considered” as a September call-up, Showalter said. Chavez is batting .206 in 10 games with Triple-A Norfolk.

Jake Arrieta, starting Game 1 of Norfolk’s doubleheader today against Durham, has struck out three batters in two perfect innings.

The Orioles still plan on having Ryan Flaherty play winter ball.

Manny Machado was supposed to play in the Arizona Fall League before the Orioles brought him up to the majors. Machado isn’t currently on the Mesa Solar Sox roster, but they have room for one more player from the organization. The AFL season begins Oct. 2.

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