With the Baltimore Orioles still hoping to make an unlikely postseason run, this might be Mike Wright's last chance to show he should be a part of it.
The rookie tries to avoid a third poor performance in as many starts since coming off the disabled list as the Orioles go for a sweep of the visiting Boston Red Sox on Wednesday night.
Baltimore (71-73) has kept its slim wild-card hopes alive with wins in six of seven, including the first two of this series. Tuesday night's 6-5, 13-inning victory moved the Orioles to 5 1/2 games back of Houston for the second wild card, though they remain behind three other teams.
"You get a little crispness back in the air, and it reminds everybody what fall baseball is like," manager Buck Showalter said. "We still feel like it's there for us if we can get the momentum needed."
Wright (2-4, 5.45 ERA) made a strong impression following his original call-up in May, winning two of three starts with a 1.40 ERA, before things started to roll downhill. The right-hander dropped his next three outings, allowing 14 runs in 10 innings, and was sent back to the minors. Wright returned to make a relief appearance July 31 before landing on the DL with a strained calf, and he's struggled since being activated.
He allowed three runs and seven hits in four innings of a 5-1 defeat at Toronto, then gave up four runs and two homers in five innings of a 14-8 victory over Kansas City on Friday.
Another bad outing could cause Wright to lose his spot in the rotation after Baltimore promoted Tyler Wilson from Triple-A Norfolk on Tuesday. Wilson went 1-1 with a 2.63 ERA in two starts earlier this season and also pitched well in four relief appearances for the Orioles.
"I think his turn falls on where Mike (Wright) is pitching, but that doesn't mean Mike doesn't pitch," Showalter told MLB's official website. "Usually this time of year, you're talking about who you're going to look at, and what have you."
The Red Sox (68-76) counter with their own first-year hurler, Henry Owens. Owens (2-2, 5.25) makes his eighth start since getting the call-up from Triple-A Pawtucket on Aug. 4.
Two seven-run outings have hurt the 6-foot-6 left-hander's ERA, but he has held opponents to seven earned runs in his other five starts combined.
The latest wasn't exactly smooth as he walked four, hit two batters and was called for a balk in a 5-1 loss to Toronto last Tuesday. Owens did hold the high-scoring Blue Jays to one run and three hits in 5 1-3 innings, and pointed to problems out of the windup as the cause of his wildness.
"I think out of the stretch I felt in command of most at-bats," Owens said. "...there's some refinement I still need to do with my mechanics out of a windup, which begins tomorrow."
Boston says right-hander Junichi Tazawa has been shut down for the remainder of the season to rest. Interim manager Torey Lovullo says there was no injury for Tazawa, who was 2-7 with a 4.14 ERA in 61 relief appearances.
Baltimore's Chris Davis singled home the winning run Tuesday and is now batting .413 with seven homers and 15 RBIs in 13 games this month.
"Obviously, at this time of the year, you know what's at stake," Davis said. "You know that you have to be almost perfect."