O's game blog: DL Hall faces Tampa Bay in his MLB debut

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After Friday’s win over the Tampa Bay Rays by a 10-3 score, the Orioles have a chance today to win this series and create further separation between these clubs. Today, the Rays host the O’s in the second contest of this three-game series.

The Orioles (59-53) scored in seven of their nine at-bats last night and produced a season-high 19 hits in their latest win, which was their eighth in the last 10 games. They have also won 12 of 17, 24 of 33 and 35 of the last 53 games.

Tampa Bay (58-53) has now lost three in a row and four of five games. The Rays are 7-12 in the second half and they are 27-32 since June 4.

The Orioles currently hold the third wild card spot in the American League. They are two games behind Seattle for the top spot and 1.5 back of Toronto for the second spot. And the Orioles are just ½ game ahead of both Minnesota and Tampa Bay for that WC-3. Did we mention how close this race is!

Orioles pitchers continue to have a pretty good season and their team ERA of 3.88 ranks tied for sixth-best in the AL. Since the All-Star break, the Orioles are 13-7 with a team ERA of 3.64 which ranks sixth in the AL. The Orioles have greatly improved their strikeout-to-walks ratio in the second half. For the year, they rank seventh with a ratio of 2.81 strikeouts for every walk but in the second-half that ratio is 3.53. In 178 second-half innings, the Orioles have walked 49 and fanned 173.

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O's make statement with win and Hall debuts today

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We’re not necessarily picking on the four-letter network, and no, I am certainly not picking on MASN. But maybe I am picking on ESPN.

In their ESPN.com MLB preview for this year, they projected a record of 58-104 for the Orioles. Another 100-loss season. Hey, at least they did see the team gaining six wins from last season.

Well, as of last night the Orioles are on pace for 85 wins, a gain of 33. As of Friday night, the Orioles also hold an American League playoff spot after they took a 7-0 lead on the way to a 10-3 rout of the Tampa Bay Rays. At Tropicana Field, where they had won just two of their previous 19 games.

It was a bit of a statement they made in the opener of this huge series.

Hey, so ESPN was wrong about the Orioles, but so were a lot of people. No one could have predicted this. Some might have thought they maybe make a run for 70 wins. But no one thought they were ready to be a .500 club, much less a playoff team.

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O's game blog: Hall gets the call as a big series begins

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The Orioles have arrived in Tampa/St. Pete for their huge weekend series with the Tampa Bay Rays. Tonight, it’s the first of three games between the AL East rivals who are competing for one of three American League wild card playoff spots.

The Orioles (58-53) and Tampa Bay (58-52) are tied 8-8 in the season series and the winner of this series will win the season series and that is big for a potential future standings tiebreaker. The Orioles begin play tonight 2.5 games behind Toronto for the first wild card, two back of Seattle for the second and ½ game behind the Rays for the third.

The Orioles had an identical record as the Rays heading into last night’s games. And while Tampa Bay was off, the Birds lost 4-3 at Boston to fall back out of their standings tie. But a win tonight and they move ahead of the Rays.

Tampa Bay has won four of seven games but over longer stretches is 5-7 in 12 games and 13-12 in its last 25. The Rays are 7-11 in the second half and 27-31 since June 4. The Rays are 33-21 at home and 25-21 versus AL East teams.

In the first series of the year, the Orioles lost three straight at Tropicana Field by scores of 2-1, 5-3 and 8-0. At that point, the Orioles were 3-27 in the last 30 games against Tampa Bay. But they are 8-5 versus the Rays since then and beat them three out of four when the two teams played in Baltimore in late July. But the Orioles are 1-5 this road against the Rays on the road. The Orioles last won a series at the Trop since June 23-25, 2017.

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Some of the newly acquired pitchers get off to good starts for O's farm

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Most of the six new pitchers the Orioles acquired in the recent trades of Trey Mancini to Houston and Jorge López to Minnesota have gotten off to good starts for their new organization.

The Orioles added three top 30 prospects.

For Mancini they got right-hander Seth Johnson from Tampa Bay. He underwent Tommy John surgery on Aug. 3, so the Orioles won’t see him for a while, but MLBPipeline.com ranks him as the club's No. 8 prospect. Baseball America has him at No. 10. After Grayson Rodriguez and DL Hall, Johnson is now the Orioles' third highest-rated pitcher.

The O’s also added 23-year-old right-hander Chayce McDermott from Houston in that deal. He now ranks as Baltimore’s No. 12 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com, and No. 17 in Baseball America's estimation. In two games with the Orioles' high Single-A Aberdeen team, he has allowed two runs and three hits in five innings, going 0-1 with a 3.60 ERA with one walk to 10 strikeouts.

In the deal with Minnesota, the O’s added lefty Cade Povich, also pitching at Aberdeen. In his first start for his new organization, he threw six scoreless innings on one hit last Saturday. MLBPipeline.com ranks Povich as the O’s No. 26 prospect, while Baseball America puts him at No. 29.

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O's game blog: O's make it to Fenway Park for one-night only appearance

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The Orioles will be in three cities in three days and their tour is on day two today. They got rained out at home last night in the scheduled third game of their series with Toronto. Their chance at their first sweep of the Blue Jays since Aug. 27-29, 2018 was washed away by the raindrops.

Tonight the Orioles play one game versus the Red Sox in Boston. Friday they open a series in St. Petersburg, Fla. against the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Orioles have made up some serious ground on several teams since the All-Star break when they were 46-46. They have gone 12-6 since to get to 58-52 and the Orioles are now tied with Tampa Bay for the third AL wild card spot. They trail Toronto by two games for the first spot and Seattle by 1.5 games for the second. The Rays, Jays and Mariners are all off tonight. 

At the break, the O’s record was tied for ninth-best in the American League. Now they are tied for the fifth-best AL record. At the All-Star game, they were five games behind Tampa Bay, which was then leading for WC-1, 4.5 behind Seattle for WC-2 and 3.5 games back of Toronto for WC-3. Not only that but both Boston (48-45) and Cleveland (46-44) were ahead of them in the standings for those spots.

Tonight, they play the one game at Fenway Park before moving onto a big weekend series against the Rays. The Orioles could get to seven games over .500 with a win and that would be their first time seven games over since May 22, 2017.

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The 2022 O's are crafting a future memorable season

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Longtime Orioles fans could probably cite some special and memorable seasons in team history. Some loved the 1989 Why Not Orioles. Some fondly remember the 2012 club that got the team back in the playoffs after a 14-year absence. No doubt the years 1966, 1970 and 1983 are special. Those, of course, were seasons ending with World Series championships.

I think that years from now when some fans look back, they might fondly discuss this 2022 season. And it probably won’t matter whether this team goes on to make the playoffs or not. This team will have a special place in the hearts of O’s fans for years, I would guess.

Surprise teams and underdogs can be special, and these Orioles qualify as both. After a 110-loss 2021, some fans' expectations were low coming into this year. “Just don’t lose 100 games again,” was one thought. “Just be more competitive,” was another.

But this team started playing competitive ball almost from the first pitch of the year. And the winning started around May 1 and hasn’t stopped. They came up with comeback wins and thrilling walk-off wins. They started to beat good American League East teams. Heck, they were beating good teams inside and outside of the division.

They lost John Means and still won. Recently they traded Trey Mancini and Jorge López and are still winning.

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O's game blog: Orioles have a chance for a sweep in series finale

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Now that they have secured a series victory over Toronto – their first since July 5-7, 2019 – the Orioles go for a three-game sweep of the Blue Jays tonight at Oriole Park. They beat Toronto 7-4 on Monday and 6-5 last night on Rougned Odor’s two-run homer in the last of the eighth.

It is another game impacted by rain, however, and tonight's game will start in a rain delay at Oriole Park.

Tuesday's victory gave the Orioles their 25th comeback win of the year. They had trailed 5-3 after the sixth inning but got within a run on Ryan Mountcastle’s RBI double in the seventh, and moved ahead on Odor’s 11th homer, a 415-foot shot to right field off a Yimi Garcia changeup. The Orioles improved to 7-44 when trailing after seven innings, and Toronto is now 51-3 when leading after seven.

The Orioles had lost 10 and tied three series against Toronto since that last series win. Last year, Baltimore went 5-14 versus the Blue Jays and now they are 4-2.

The Orioles continue to play improved baseball against American League East teams. They are 6-2 in their last eight division games and are 14-10 in the last 24. For the year they are 22-24 in division games, going 15-10 at home.

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He's No. 1: Baseball America's JJ Cooper on Gunnar Henderson

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Baseball America has been putting out its top 100 prospects list since 1990, and only once previously has an organization had two different players ranked No. 1 in back-to-back years in their January winter rankings. Now the Orioles have a chance to match that.

Last January, Adley Rutschman was No. 1 and this week infielder Gunnar Henderson moved to No. 1 in the latest Baseball America top 100 update. They are now updating their January release once a month in season. If Henderson stays No. 1 in the January rating this coming winter, the Orioles would match the Cardinals, who had J.D. Drew No. 1 in 1999 and Rick Ankiel No. 1 in 2000.

By the way, Rutschman and Henderson were Mike Elias’ first two draft picks after taking over as Orioles executive vice president and general manager.

Henderson has had a remarkable year on the Baltimore farm starting at Double-A Bowie and moving to Triple-A Norfolk in early June. He has hit for the cycle this year and played in the All-Star Futures Game. He is just 21 years old.

When Rutschman reached 130 big league at-bats, he “graduated” from the top 100 list and thus was removed. For a time, Tigers outfielder Riley Greene moved to No. 1, and then in late July, Blue Jays catcher Gabriel Moreno was No. 1. But now Henderson has passed him for the top spot, as Moreno dropped to third with outfielder Jackson Chourio of the Brewers second.

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O's game blog: Looking for a series win over Toronto

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After winning 7-4 over the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday night, the Orioles now have two chances to achieve something they have not since 2019. That is, a win a series against Toronto.

The Orioles (57-52) split a four-game series 2-2 at Toronto in June, but they have not won a series versus the Blue Jays since taking two of three at Toronto July 5-7. 2019. Since then, through the earlier series at Rogers Centre, the Orioles have lost 10 and tied three series against Toronto. So the Blue Jays are 10-0-3 the last 13 series. The Orioles went 12-31 over those 13 series.

But their win last night gives them a 3-2 record over Toronto this season, after going 5-14 versus the Blue Jays in 2021. The Orioles are 21-24 against the American League East, winning five of their last seven, nine of 15 and 13 of their past 23 division games this year.

The Orioles got closer to a playoff spot when Seattle lost to the Yankees Monday. The Birds begin play tonight one game behind Seattle for the third AL wild card, 1.5 games back of Tampa Bay for wild card two and three games back of Toronto, which holds AL wild card one right now.

The Orioles are 50-38 since May 1, a winning percentage of .568. Over a full year that percentage would produce 92 wins.      

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Mental and physical resets have Kyle Bradish feeling better about his game

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When Orioles right-handed pitcher Kyle Bradish returned recently to the team, he had almost become a new pitcher. The results are certainly better than when we had previously seen him in the big leagues.

Before going on the injured list with right shoulder inflammation, Bradish’s ERA ballooned to 7.38. This was the same guy that on May 10 at St. Louis allowed two runs over seven innings with no walks and 11 strikeouts.

But before his IL stint in his last two starts June 13 and 18, he allowed 11 runs and 20 hits over 8 2/3 innings while batters hit .465 against him with an OPS of 1.140 in those two games. Then in his first two starts back active on the roster, at Cincinnati and Texas on the road trip, he gave up three runs and eight hits over 10 innings while batters hit .216/ with a .617 OPS against him.

Big difference. Bradish makes his third start since coming off the IL tonight at home versus Toronto.

Bradish said he made both physical and mental changes during his time away from the Orioles. The mental reset and getting back to the farm was helpful, and so was his work with the O’s pitching coaches on his breaking pitches. They felt the shape of his slider and curveball were becoming too similar, and he needed to fix that.

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O's game blog: Jordan Lyles faces Toronto in series opener

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Now two games out of both the second and third American League wild card spots, and four games behind the No. 1 spot held by Toronto, the Orioles begin a three-game series with the Blue Jays tonight at Camden Yards.

It’s a big series between two teams that did not play once during the season’s first 61 games, and then split four games in mid-June at Toronto’s Rogers Centre. The Orioles lost 11-1 in the series opener, won the second game 6-5, lost 7-6 in 10 and then blasted former Oriole Kevin Gausman 10-2 in the fourth game of that series. Gausman allowed seven runs (five earned) over 2 1/3 innings.

The Orioles (56-52) and Blue Jays (60-48) will play six times in the next 10 games and 15 in the last 54 of the O’s regular season. They will meet nine times in the last 28 games starting Sept. 5.

The Orioles have not had a lot of success in recent seasons against Toronto. They are 17-35 since the 2019 season and Toronto is unbeaten in its last 13 series versus Baltimore. When the O’s went 2-2 in Canada last month it was their first series win or split of three games or more against that team since Aug. 1-4, 2019.

The Orioles are 6-6-1 in series this season against the AL East after going 3-19-2 last year. They are 20-24 versus AL East teams and 13-10 at home against the division. The Orioles are 4-2 their last six division games this season and 8-6 in the last 14.

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Félix Bautista was bringing the heat in first save chance since the López trade

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When he took the mound at Camden Yards on Friday night in the ninth, right-hander Félix Bautista was trying to hold the Orioles' 1-0 lead over Pittsburgh and pick up his fourth career save. He would get it done and close out the win.

But even though it wasn’t a clean save – he gave up a single and walk with one out – it was a devastating show of power pitching.

Bautista, who ranks among the hardest throwers in the majors, threw 17 fastballs that night, and all 17 were 100.0 mph or more. He threw five pitches 101 mph or more and one that topped at 102 mph. The 17 pitches at 100 or more were the most by an O’s pitcher in a single game in the Statcast era (since 2015). And Bautista became the second reliever in the majors (third occurrence) with that many 100.0+ mph pitches in a game this season, joining Jordan Hicks of the St. Louis Cardinals.

The man they call “The Mountain” has been so big for the Orioles bullpen this season. He pitched at three levels on the O’s farm last year, starting at high Single-A Aberdeen, moving later to Double-A Bowie and ending with Triple-A Norfolk. He has pitched just 28 2/3 career innings on the farm above the high-A level.

And in the minors he struggled with his control, averaging 5.1 walks per nine innings with 10.4 strikeouts. So how did he make such improvement in the bigs to walk just 3.0 per nine with 12.2 strikeouts in 2022? And now he is closing games. That’s amazing.

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O's game blog: Looking for a sweep against Pittsburgh

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With 1-0 and 6-3 wins over Pittsburgh this weekend, the Orioles have moved closer to a playoff spot and also are now a win away from a second consecutive three-game sweep. They’ll try to get that this afternoon in the series finale.

The Orioles beat the Bucs 1-0 on a combined six-hitter Friday night as Dean Kremer allowed four hits over 6 1/3 innings on 83 pitches. They held Pittsburgh to six hits again on Saturday in the win. The No. 9 spot in the Orioles batting order, between Brett Phillips and Ryan McKenna, combined for two doubles, a sac bunt and three RBIs.

The Orioles (56-51) have won five in a row, their second-longest streak of the year behind the 10-game win streak right before the All-Star break. That streak took the O’s from nine games under .500 to one game over, and they have continued to build on that.

They begin play today one game out of both the second and third American League wild card spots. Tampa Bay is one percentage point ahead of Seattle for the second wild card spot.

.533 – Tampa Bay (57-50)
.532 – Seattle (58-51)
.523 – Orioles (56-51)

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Hall of Famers return, O's win and "there was greatness in our clubhouse"

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I have mentioned a few times lately that not all days at the ballpark are created equal. Some are more special. We keep getting days like that around Birdland lately, and Saturday was sure one of them.

To have Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson and Eddie Murray at the Yard was pretty awesome, for the fans and the Orioles team too. The ceremony for the 30th anniversary celebration of Oriole Park at Camden Yards was well done, and brought back some nice memories of some wonderful moments over the years.

Then the Orioles' winning streak continued with a 6-3 win over Pittsburgh as 41,086 cheered them on. It was awesome to see Oriole Park rocking like it was Saturday. When I headed home the fans at the Yard were still rocking at the postgame concert.

I was just excited I had recognized a few of the songs. Had set the over/under at two and I went over. Yay for me. But that just capped off a great day and night for the fans of Birdland.

The Hall of Famers, No. 33 and No. 5, spent time talking to the Orioles players before the game. And after that they talked with reporters, and Murray was asked if this current club reminds him of the 1979 team that made Oriole magic a thing.

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O's celebrate Camden Yards with 6-3 win over the Pirates (updated)

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Perhaps fueled with some momentum from the pregame ceremony and celebration of 30 years of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the current group of Birds got off to a fast start today against Pittsburgh.

Not long after the fans cheered Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson, Eddie Murray and Mike Mussina with gusto, among others that returned, the 2022 Orioles scored once in the first and twice in the second off Pirates right-hander JT Brubaker to take an early 3-0 lead.

The Pirates would close the gap but the Orioles did their part toward making the day a party and a success with a 6-3 win over the Pirates before an enthusiastic crowd of 41,086 at the ballpark. That is the second-largest crowd of the year behind opening day. 

Before the game Robinson and Murray spoke to the Orioles players. Manager Brandon Hyde said it meant so much to his team.

“Priceless day for our guys,” said Hyde. “We were so honored to have Brooks and Eddie in our clubhouse to say a few words of encouragement. Just greatness in our clubhouse. Our guys felt it, they were appreciative. The whole ceremony was fantastic. I think our whole team was out there for it to recognize some great moments here over the last 30 years and the people that were a part of it. Really impressed with everything, but the cherry on top was Brooks and Eddie being in our clubhouse.”

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O's game blog: Looking to extend a winning streak

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After recording their fourth 1-0 win of the year Friday night against Pittsburgh, the Orioles host the Pirates again today and a win in either of the next two games will give them their 16th series win of the year. They are 15-14-4 in series play thus far through the Texas series.

The 1-0 win came via a six-hitter which was a combined effort of right-handers Dean Kremer and Félix Bautista and lefty Cionel Pérez. Kremer allowed four hits over 6 1/3 innings and his ERA had been 6.94 his previous five starts. Pérez got five big outs and lowered his ERA to 1.15. Bautista got the final three outs, the last two on strikeouts with two men in the ninth. It was his fourth save, but first save chance since the trade of former closer Jorge López to Minnesota.

The O’s have won four in a row and their pitchers have allowed just seven earned runs in those four wins. Last night was Baltimore’s 10th shutout of the year and second in the last eight games. The team ERA is 2.57 in those eight games.

Per the Elias Sports Bureau, Kremer is the first Baltimore pitcher since Jim Palmer in 1978 to start three games in a season that ended in 1-0 O's wins. The Orioles won their fourth 1-0 game, the most by an MLB team since the San Francisco Giants won five in 2019. The last year in which the Birds won four games by a 1-0 score was 1983, and before 2022, the O's did not have a 1-0 win since July 4, 2018 versus Texas.

In the last turn through the pitching rotation, Austin Voth, Spenser Watkins, Jordan Lyles, Kyle Bradish and Kremer have allowed three earned runs over 28 2/3 innings for an ERA of 1.14. With the win last night, Kremer improved to 4-3 with a 3.43 ERA.

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Austin Hays expected to avoid the IL and other pregame notes

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O’s outfielder Austin Hays is not in the starting lineup for the third straight game with a sore and tight left oblique. During the Orioles clubhouse media availability today before batting practice, Hays said he was hopeful he would not need a stint on the injured list.

“Not at this point, no.” he said. “Have a little bit better feel after today. We’ve let it settle these last couple of days. So, we’ll have a little bit better understanding where I’m at today once I go do my (pregame) stuff.

“I feel a little bit better today. Just got to reassess where I’m at. We’ve just been doing treatment right now to let it fully settle. That is three days of just straight treatment so we’ll asses today and see where it’s at.”

And where it is at is a better place today. When manager Brandon Hyde talked with reporters, Hays had already completed some pregame work and it went well.

“Hays is trending in the right direction,” said Hyde. “Feels a lot better today. Hopefully he is in there the next couple of days. Took some swings today in the cage. Felt a lot better. Went out and did a pretty good throwing program out there. It’s just, with an oblique, you want to be really cautious. Just want to make sure he’s 100 percent before we put him back out there. So it looks good.”

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Pitching carries the night in homestand opener (plus O's alums on anniversary)

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The Orioles returned home and the winning continued Friday as Dean Kremer, Cionel Pérez and Félix Bautista combined on a six-hit, 1-0 win over Pittsburgh.

For the Orioles (55-51), it was a nice start to a homestand.

Tampa Bay won Friday but Seattle lost, and the Mariners have now dropped into the third American League wild card spot. They lead the Orioles for that by 1 1/2 games. The O's are two games back of Tampa Bay, which holds the second AL wild-card berth. 

The Orioles went 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position but the Baltimore pitchers made the one run stand up as they pitched their 10th shutout of the season and second in the last eight games. The 10 shutouts match the total from the full 2019 and 2021 seasons combined, when they had five each.

The Orioles have gone 20-7 the last 27 games. It's their best single-season 27-game stretch since going 20-7 from Aug. 28-Sept. 24, 2014.

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O's game blog: The homestand begins against Pittsburgh

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After going 4-2 on a road trip which ended with a three-game sweep at Texas, the Orioles begin a six-game homestand tonight against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Orioles swept Texas, winning by scores of 7-2, 8-2 and 6-3 as they swept the series and their six games this year versus Texas.

The Orioles (54-51) moved three games over the .500 mark for the first time since April 4, 2021 when they began that season 3-0 at Boston’s Fenway Park. They scored 21 runs in the sweep against the Rangers and allowed just eight.

It was the Orioles first season sweep of six games or more since they went 6-0 versus the Los Angeles Angels in the 2010 season. They scored 40 runs in the six games versus Rangers pitching. In this recent series they had 30 hits including 10 doubles and five homers off Texas pitchers.

Now the O’s host Pittsburgh and Baltimore is 7-5 this year versus NL Central teams and coupled with their 1-1 mark against the Washington Nationals, they are 8-6 against NL teams this year.

The Orioles, who were 46-46 at the All-Star break, are 8-5 in the second half. They have won seven of their past 10, 19 of 26, 24 of 36 and 30 of 46 games.

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Phillips excited for first start and O's alums back for 30th anniversary celebration

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He may hitting just .145 in 76 games this year, but new Orioles outfielder Brett Phillips has good numbers in his career batting at Camden Yards. And tonight he’ll take the field for his first start as an Oriole. And it probably won’t surprise you to know that the ultra-enthusiastic Phillips could not be much more excited.

“Coming into a clubhouse that has a lot of energy as it is, I’m a guy who brings the energy and feeds off of energy. Just being here the other day for the first time I’ve recognized that we’ve got a group that is hungry here and that’s willing to get better and wants to win. We have a good opportunity here and I’m trying to come in here and do what I can to help this team win. And whatever opportunity that Brandon Hyde has for me, I’m going to be ready,” Phillips said earlier in the Baltimore clubhouse.

He has watched the Orioles from across the field with Tampa Bay and sees a very different team in 2022. One that begins tonight at 54-51 and two games out of the final American League playoff spot.

“Being on the Rays, we won 18 of 19 against Baltimore last year and looking from the other dugout (this season) it’s night and day different,” he said. “How they are preparing, their approach, the information that they are getting. I told the hitting coaches, I’m a sponge. I wanna bring the energy, contribute as much as I can and I want to win the World Series. You have to belive that first then actually do it.”

Phillips is a career .259/.355/.537 (14-for-54) hitter in 22 games at Oriole Park, with eight extra-base hits (4-2B, 3B, 3 HR), eight runs scored, 11 RBIs, eight walks, and four stolen bases. His .892 career OPS at Oriole Park is his highest at any ballpark where he has played at least 10 games. And his batting line is .280/.308/.400 (7-for-25) with three doubles, two runs scored, one RBI, one walk, and two stolen bases in eight games at Camden Yards this season.

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