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Two of the biggest surprises in baseball this season and opening the second half of the season against one another with the Miami Marlins visiting the Baltimore Orioles. The two teams are playing the second of a three-game series against one another on Saturday night with both teams hoping to start the second half of the season with a series win.
Unfortunately for the Marlins, the team’s first division title in franchise history is somewhat unrealistic with Atlanta holding a comfortable lead. However, the Marlins entered the all-star break at the top of the Wild Card standings. They also won five of their last seven games going into the break and will hope to carry that momentum over into the second half because the Wild Card race is bound to get competitive.
On the other side, the Orioles won five in a row heading into the all-star break, pulling within two games of the Rays in the AL East. That gives Baltimore a fighting chance to win the division crown. But even if that doesn’t work out, the Orioles are still well-positioned in the Wild Card standings to get back to the postseason for the first time since 2016.
With the Marlins and Orioles both among the best teams in baseball, the odds for Saturday’s game are understandably tight. DraftKings lists the Marlins as a slight favorite at -105 compared to Baltimore’s moneyline of -115. There is also an over/under for the game of eight runs.
Lefty Braxton Garrett gets the ball for the Marlins on Saturday. He owns a 3.70 ERA on the season and was one of MLB’s best starters in June when he posted a 2.22 ERA over five starts. Despite a couple of uneven performances in July, Garrett remains Miami’s good-luck charm, as the Marlins have won his last eight starts and are 14-4 this year when Garrett pitches.
Meanwhile, the Marlins can be a little erratic offensively. They’ve already been shut out twice in the month of July, but they also scored 30 runs over a three-game span against the Cardinals last week. Luis Arraez is the best table-setter in baseball and the presumed batting champ in the National League this season. But he obviously needs some help, especially with Jazz Chisholm and Avisail Garcia on the IL. The good news for the Marlins is that Jorge Soler and Garrett Cooper provide plenty of power while Jean Segura and Jesus Sanchez started to heat up right before the all-star break.
Veteran Kyle Gibson will start for Baltimore on Saturday night while going for his 10th win of the season. Despite being 9-6 on the year, Gibson has a modest 4.60 ERA. He also struggled throughout June with a 6.84 ERA, although he was much better in his final start before the break, striking out 11 over seven innings against the Twins while allowing just two runs on three hits. Even when he struggles, Gibson is usually able to give Baltimore some length and eat up some innings. However, the Orioles are just 2-5 in his last seven starts.
Despite his ups and downs this year, Gibson has nine wins because the Orioles have given him plenty of run support. Baltimore was actually sad to see the first half end, as the Orioles scored 44 total runs over the five games right before the all-star break. The Baltimore lineup features a pair of all-stars in Adley Rutschman and Austin Hays. Plus, Anthony Santander, Gunnar Henderson, and Cedric Mullins also had impressive first halves with Santander being Baltimore’s hottest hitter heading into the break. Alas, given Baltimore’s difficulty winning with Gibson lately and the Marlins being almost unbeatable with Garrett on the mound this season, the Orioles may not have enough to hold serve at home on Saturday night.
With the way both of these teams were scoring runs before the all-star break, a total of eight runs or more in this game is a distinct possibility. While hitters can sometimes come back from the all-star break rusty, Friday’s game will help them to get their timing back. While Garrett and Gibson are capable pitchers, neither is likely to completely dominate the opposing lineup, making it a calculated risk to bet on the over in this game.
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Bryan Zarpentine is a 2008 graduate of Syracuse University and has been working as a freelance writer and editor since 2010. During that time, he has contributed to countless sites while covering baseball, soccer, the NFL, college football, and college basketball.More info on Bryan Zarpentine
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