AL East

It is Gut-Check Time for the Baltimore Orioles

Miley Mound Meeting

Following an uncomfortable side-session for Baltimore Orioles Ace Chris Tillman, the Orioles plan to announce that Tillman will be placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Saturday  with right shoulder soreness.

Tillman, who is 15-5 with a 3.76 ERA, has been the clear cut ace of the Orioles staff all season and is eligible to return on Sept. 5. With 15 wins, Tillman’s search to become the first Orioles’ 20-game winner since Mike Boddicker in 1984 just got even more challenging.

As did the remainder of the O’s August.

With Tillman joining reliever Darren O’Day on the DL, the Orioles are forced to play without two of their best and most important pitchers.

Even more importantly, the Orioles are in the middle of what is shaping up to be a fight to the finish in the AL East. Entering Wednesday, the Orioles two games behind the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox who are tied atop the AL East.

The Orioles need everyone to step up — especially their pitching staff.

On Tuesday night, Kevin Gausman delivered a quality start throwing six shutout innings allowing  six hits.

The night before, Dylan Bundy went six innings allowing two runs on three hits. With both Bundy and Gausman giving the Orioles back-to-back quality starts, the O’s have taken the first two games against the Washington Nationals.

On Wednesday, the Orioles will turn to left-hander Wade Miley. Miley was acquired from the Seattle Mariners prior to the Aug. 1 trade deadline in hopes to improve the Orioles’ rotation.

Unfortunately for Miley and the O’s, he has struggled mightily. Miley has allowed 18 runs in 17 innings and is 0-2 with a 9.53 ERA in four starts with the Orioles.

If the Orioles want to survive without Tillman, Miley’s performance the rest of the way is critical.

On Thursday, the Orioles will turn to Ubaldo Jimenez to start in Tillman’s place. Jimenez has struggled all season but is getting another chance to prove himself against a good-hitting Nationals team.

In his career against the Nats, Jimenez is 6-1 with a 2.32 ERA in eight starts.

Will Jimenez remain in the rotation or will the O’s dig into the farm system?

The team could turn to Joe Gunkel, who was scratched from his start on Tuesday at Triple-A Norfolk. Gunkel is 8-12 with a 3.57 ERA in 25 starts between Double-A Bowie and Norfolk.

If not, Vance Worley is also a possibility as well as long-man Patrick Birdwell who has some starting experience in the minor leagues.

Whatever way it plays out, the Orioles are almost through the dog-days of August, but as the weather is set to cool down, the heat of a pennant race is certainly still on in Birdland.

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