During a season that has featured a lot of excitement already, this week in Birdland might produce max excitement. The Orioles will play their next seven games versus the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Dodgers (53-39) had a six-game winning streak snapped by the New York Mets in 10 innings on Sunday. The Dodgers, the 2020 World Series champions, have won the National League West 10 times in the last 11 seasons, winning 100 games or more four times in that span.
The Rays, who got off to a 13-0 start and a 20-3 start this year, have been leading the AL East wire-to-wire thus far. But after the Orioles win Sunday and Tampa Bay’s loss at Kansas City, their division lead is just one game over the Orioles, who are one game better than Tampa Bay in the loss column.
The Orioles have not been this close to first since the second day of the year. By the third game on April 2, they were 1-2 at Boston and they were two games behind. And have been at least that far back until Friday night when the Rays were rained out and they pulled within 1.5 games. Now the lead is down to a single game in the standings with the Rays 60-36 and the Orioles 57-35.
Before the Orioles and Rays start a four-game series on Thursday at the Trop, the Rays will play three games against Texas. So, while the Orioles will play the NL West leaders the next three days, the Rays will be meeting the AL West leaders.
The Orioles now have an eight-game win streak – a streak that has come against the Yankees (50-44), AL Central-leading Twins (48-46) and Miami (53-42) which has the third-best record in the NL.
When the O’s series with Miami began on Friday, the Marlins were 20-7 (.741) in interleague play and 4-2 this year against the AL East. They were also 28-10 (.737) all-time versus the Orioles. That was both the Marlins' best record against any other team and the Orioles’ worst.
But the Birds got the sweep – their fifth this year of three games – and also extended their win streak. They have outscored their opponents 60-20 during the streak, a stretch where they have both hit and pitched well.
During the eight-game streak, the Orioles have hit .403 (31-for-77) when batting with runners in scoring position. They went 8-for-25 with RISP in the weekend sweep. It might surprise some in Birdland to find out that Baltimore’s .274 batting average going into Sunday’s games ranked tied for fourth-best in the AL with RISP and ranked tied for sixth in the entire major leagues.
At 57-35, the Orioles are 22 games over the .500 mark and their .620 win percentage puts them on a pace to win 100 games.
Right-hander Kyle Bradish was the latest starter to shine with 7 1/3 scoreless on Sunday. It was the longest outing by an O’s starter this year and the 11th time an O’s starter went seven or more innings. The club is 10-1 in those games. The Orioles got their 36th quality start Sunday and they are 28-8 in those games. Baltimore starting pitchers have allowed two earned runs or less in seven of the last eight games and pitched six innings or more in nine of the last 10.
The rotation ERA is 2.12 with seven quality starts the past eight games and 3.59 with 18 QS the past 30 games.
The pitchers have stepped up allowing just five runs last weekend versus the Twins and 11 runs against the Marlins.
Now the pitching staff adds right-hander Grayson Rodriguez, who returns to the majors tonight to make the start. We'll find out if the command gains he made back at Triple-A will help have more consistent MLB success.
He is 2-2 with a 7.35 ERA in 10 starts for the Orioles. In those games he gave up four runs or more but also had outings where he gave up two runs or fewer five times.
He pitched well at Triple-A, going 4-0 with a 1.96 ERA in eight starts. In his past four starts for the Tides, he allowed just two earned runs over 19 1/3 for an ERA of 0.93.
The O's rotation is going so well right now that Cole Irvin, who has an ERA of 2.92 in six games the last month, is getting bumped to the bullpen so the kid can return to the starting five.
These are eventful days in Birdland and this week figures to be something exciting.