O’s game blog: O’s begin interleague play in Cincinnati (O’s lose 9-3)

After splitting two games in Boston and winning three of four in Toronto, the Orioles start the last series of this road trip tonight in Cincinnati. They begin the night at 8-3 overall and 4-2 on this nine-game trip. The Reds are 8-5 and in first place in the National League Central.

This is not only the Orioles’ first interleague series of the 2017 season, but it’s the only series outside of the American League East they play through May 4. They will have played 24 of 27 within the division, barring rainouts, by that date.

The Orioles went 14-6 against the NL last season. The 14 wins were the club’s most interleague wins ever, topping 12 from 2014 and 2015. The only team in the majors with a better interleague record last year was the World Series-winning Chicago Cubs at 15-5.

Since interleague play began in 1997, the Orioles are 175-188 versus the NL. Since 2012, the Birds are 60-38 (.612) against the NL and that is the second-best winning percentage in the majors, behind Boston, in interleague games in that stretch.

In taking three games at Rogers Centre, the Orioles improved to 5-1 this season against Toronto. The first five games of the season series were decided by one, two, one, two and one run until the Orioles won 11-4 Sunday. Trey Mancini homered twice with four RBIs, while Craig Gentry and Manny Machado added two-run homers.

The Orioles have hit two or more homers five times this year and they are 5-0 in those games. They have hit 13 home runs over their past five games.

MLB team home run leaders:
25 - Milwaukee
22 - New York Mets
20 - Texas
18 - Orioles, New York Yankees

The Orioles have played the Reds in the regular seasons in 2005, 2011 and 2014. Tonight they make their first trip to Cincinnati since that 2005 series. They are 6-3 against the Reds in regular season games. The Orioles beat the Reds in five games to win the 1970 World Series with Brooks Robinson taking MVP honors.

The 2017 Reds are leading the NL Central by a half-game over Milwaukee as this series begins. The Reds started 7-2 before losing three of four to the Brewers over the weekend. Reds pitchers threw three shutouts in their first six games of this season, doing that for the first time since 1980. Last year, Cincinnati went 5-15 against the American League.

Right-hander Kevin Gausman (1-0, 3.94 ERA) makes his fourth start for the Orioles. On Thursday at Toronto, he went six innings, allowing five hits and one run on 97 pitches. He got the win in a 2-1 Orioles victory.

Gausman has pitched well early in his starts, allowing a combined two runs in 12 innings over the first four innings for an ERA of 1.50. He has thrown 16 innings on the year, allowing 18 hits and seven runs with nine walks, 11 strikeouts and no homers allowed.

Last season, the Orioles went 14-16 in Gausman’s 30 starts when they scored one run or less for him 12 times. This season the club is 3-0 when he starts.

Tonight, Gausman is making his 99th career major league appearance.

The Reds’ starter is right-hander Bronson Arroyo (0-2, 9.90 ERA), who has not made a start against the Orioles since 2011. In his two outings, Arroyo has pitched 10 innings, allowing 13 hits and 11 runs, including four homers, with three walks and five strikeouts.

In the two games, he has given up a batting average against of just .175 versus left-handed batters. But right-handed batters are hitting a robust .417 against him, going 10-for-24 with three doubles, three homers and an OPS of 1.357.

Arroyo is 3-2 with a 5.82 ERA in 10 career games (six starts) against Baltimore. But he has not faced them since June 25, 2011 when he saw a lineup that included Nick Markakis, Vladimir Guerrero, Luke Scott, Derrek Lee and Robert Andino.

Orioles hitters recently:

* Over his last three games, Mancini is 6-for-10 with four homers and eight RBIs.

jj-hardy-batting-orange-close.jpg* J.J. Hardy is 7-for-16 his past four games with two doubles, a homer and four RBIs.

* Jonathan Schoop is 9-for-19 during a five-game hitting streak with three doubles, two homers and five RBIs.

* He did homer Sunday, but Machado is just 3-for-26 over his past seven games.

Quick farm notes: Triple-A Norfolk catcher Chance Sisco has hit safely in four of his last six games, batting .348 (8-for-23) with three doubles, four RBIs and five runs scored. Tides right-handed reliever Jimmy Yacabonis has held opposing batters to an .056 average (1-for-18) over 5 2/3 shutout innings to start the year. Norfolk has activated lefty Paul Fry. The Orioles acquired him Friday from Seattle in exchange for 2016-17 international signing bonus slot No. 105.

Double-A Bowie leads the Eastern League with 65 runs scored. They’ve recorded 119 hits and are batting .308 as a team. In the first three innings, Bowie has outscored its opponents 27-13. Outfielder Cedric Mullins had his season-opening 10-game hitting streak snapped last night.

Single-A Frederick shortstop Ryan Mountcastle has fared well over his first 11 games in the Carolina League. He’s batting .289 and has hit safely in his last seven games. In that span, he is batting .310 (9-for-29) with a homer, three doubles, five RBIs and four runs. The Keys’ Jomar Reyes is third in the league batting .386 with six multi-hit games.

After winning the South Atlantic League Player of the Week honors Monday, Delmarva outfielder Jake Ring had two more hits last night. Over his past five games, Ring is 14-for-20 (.700) with six doubles, two triples, a homer and 10 RBIs. He ranks fifth in the league batting .439.

Tough night: The Orioles got blown out 9-3 tonight at Cincinnati. Gausman gave up eight runs over 2 2/3 innings. The runs allowed tied his career-worst night. His ERA is 7.23 through four starts. The Orioles fell behind 7-1 after two innings and 9-1 after three.

Adam Jones hit a two-run homer, while Mark Trumbo and Welington Castillo added two hits. The Orioles (8-4) remain ahead of the AL East by percentage points over the New York Yankees (9-5), who lost 4-1 against the Chicago White Sox and former O’s right-hander Miguel Gonzalez.

On Wednesday night at 7:10 p.m. at Great American Ball Park, Ubaldo Jiménez (0-0, 10.38 ERA) pitches against left-hander Amir Garrett (2-0, 1.42 ERA).

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