Kjerstad making first major league start

The pressure is building on the Orioles to hold onto their division lead, which is down to one game after last night’s 4-3 loss to the Rays.

Both teams have 91 wins. Tampa Bay has lost two more games.

The Orioles have lost three in a row, their longest streak since dropping four straight June 27-July 1.

Heston Kjerstad is making his first major league start, serving as designated hitter.

Ryan Mountcastle remains out of the lineup.

Gunnar Henderson moves into the leadoff spot, with Adley Rutschman dropping down to second.

Jordan Westburg is playing third base. Aaron Hicks is in left field.

Jack Flaherty will be on the mound in front of a sellout crowd, before a pregame ceremony honoring Adam Jones, who’s retiring as an Oriole.

Flaherty has posted a 7.16 ERA and 1.663 WHIP in six starts with the Orioles and he’s pitching for his postseason life. In two starts this month, he’s surrendered eight earned runs and nine total with 14 hits and 10 strikeouts in eight innings.

Flaherty hasn’t faced the Rays in his career.

The Orioles still need one more win against the Rays to clinch the tiebreaker. Their magic number for the division is stuck at four.

Right-hander Zach Eflin is 14-8 with a 3.53 ERA and 1.052 WHIP in 28 starts. He’s averaging 1.3 walks and 9.2 strikeouts per nine innings.

Eflin has worked five innings in both starts this month, allowing six runs and 12 hits. He shut out the Orioles on two hits over seven innings on July 21 at Tropicana Field. He also faced them May 9 at Camden Yards and allowed four runs in six innings.

Tampa Bay’s bullpen hasn’t surrendered an earned run in the last 34 innings. Four relievers combined to retire all 12 batters faced last night.

For the Orioles
Gunnar Henderson SS
Adley Rutschman C
Anthony Santander RF
Ryan O’Hearn 1B
Aaron Hicks LF
Cedric Mullins CF
Heston Kjerstad DH
Jordan Westburg 3B
Adam Frazier 2B

Jack Flaherty RHP

Triple-A Norfolk pitcher Noah Denoyer underwent Tommy John surgery this week in Los Angeles.

Chayce McDermott will miss tonight’s start at Norfolk with lower-back discomfort.

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