A few mid-game notes

Some O's and Rays notes as this game moves to the fifth inning with the Orioles leading Tampa Bay 3-1.

Steve Johnson came on to pitch in the top of the fourth tonight when Jason Hammel left with a right knee injury. Johnson is 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA over seven big league games, including two starts, this year.

In 21 innings, he has allowed just 14 hits with six walks with 27 strikeouts and a batting average against of only .192. Impressive, as he has done that amid irregular work. He has pitched just twice since Aug. 25. Over his last 13 innings, Johnson's ERA is 2.08.

Even though the Rays and Orioles are separated by just one game in the standings, their record in the close games is much different. While the Orioles are 47-20 in games decided by two runs or less, Tampa Bay is 34-39.

The Orioles offense has picked it up as of late. The Birds have scored 23 runs the last four games, 51 over the last eight and 90 in the last 16 games.

In their six games before tonight, the Orioles were batting .378 (14-for-37) with runners in scoring position.

J.J. Hardy's two-run homer to left in the last of the third tonight broke a 1-1 tie and gave the O's a 3-1 lead. It was Hardy's 20th homer and this is the fourth time he has hit 20 or more in a season. It was just the fourth homer allowed by Tampa starter Matt Moore over his past 13 starts.

Manny Machado's infield hit in the last of the fourth makes him 15-for-42 (.357) over his past 11 games.

A win tonight by the O's would be their 79th. They last had that many wins in one season in 1998.

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