O's comeback: They rally for three in the ninth to beat Toronto, 5-4 (updated)

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TORONTO – After 26 innings of mostly frustration on offense this weekend in Toronto, the 27th inning proved quite fruitful for the Orioles today.

Against right-handed All-Star closer Jordan Romano, one of the saves leaders in MLB with 34, the Orioles scored three runs in the ninth on Adley Rutschman’s huge two-run single and an RBI single by Jesús Aguilar.

The Orioles, who never led today until the ninth, beat Toronto 5-4 to salvage the final game of this series.

Winning for just the fifth time in 13 games, the Orioles come home at 76-69, and this win sparked a little life into their flickering playoff hopes.

Romano had recorded 14 consecutive scoreless appearances over 15 innings and had allowed just one earned run this season at home in 28 games. His home ERA of 0.31 was the best among all qualified MLB relievers. 

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O's game blog: The Toronto series finale

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TORONTO – The Toronto Blue Jays recently took three of four games in a series in Baltimore. Today, they can sweep a three-game series with the Orioles at Rogers Centre. They have posted two straight 6-3 wins over the Orioles this weekend.

The O’s (75-69) began the weekend five games behind Toronto and are now seven games back. The Orioles have lost eight of of their past 12 games. They are 7-8 for the season series against Toronto and 4-5 at Rogers Centre. The teams will play three games at the end of the season in Baltimore, but the Orioles will have to gain significant ground on Toronto to make those matter.

With Saturday’s victory, the Blue Jays are now 83-63 this season, and are 20 games over .500 for the first time since finishing last year at 91-71. They are now 43-31 at Rogers Centre and moved to 35-27 in American League East division games,  having won 11 of the last 14 and 15 of the last 19. They win this series and are now 25-15-6 in series play this year and have gone 14-7-2 in home series.

Toronto left fielder Raimel Tapia cleared the bases with a double in the bottom of the fifth, putting the Blue Jays in front, 6- 2. He drove in at least three runs in a game for the sixth time this season.

Toronto’s George Springer led off the game with a single before doubling home a pair in the second off losing pitcher Kyle Bradish, who is now 3-7 with an ERA of 5.05. Springer went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, his 30th multi-hit game of the year.

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Toronto pregame updates on Mountcastle, Gunnar at cleanup and more

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TORONTO – The Orioles have just 18 games remaining, and at this point, injured first baseman Ryan Mountcastle is not a candidate for an injured list stay. But he is also not in today’s starting lineup for the series finale in Toronto.

“He’s pretty sore today,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “He’s trending in the right way. Spent a lot of time in the training room this morning. It’s just the tricep, it’s right above the elbow, is pretty sore.”

Mountcastle was hit by a pitch, a 94 mph fastball, from right-hander José Berríos in the second inning on Saturday afternoon. He stayed in the game and ran the bases, but when the O’s took the field for the last of the second, he had been replaced at first base by Jesús Aguilar. And Aguilar is playing first base today.

The Orioles have had an MLB-low 12 players on the injured list this season and Hyde gave some props today to his medical, training and strength coach staffs for that.

“We’ve done a really good job with workload. And the credit goes to (head athletic trainer) Brian Ebel and his staff and the two strength guys. And how we’re monitoring playing time and the communication that goes on between all of us and workload and how these guys are playing. Don’t jinx it, we’ve got two and a half more weeks to go. But we’ve been able to keep guys healthy into the middle of September, now getting into the deeper part of September. Only had a handful of major injuries. Look at others teams’ injury lists and they are a lot longer than ours. Lot of credit goes to the guys in the training room," Hyde said. 

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O's have lost two at Rogers Centre, but Gunnar Henderson keeps producing

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TORONTO – The Orioles have to be pleased that rookies have driven in all six of their runs in the series at Rogers Centre. But now they could use some help.

The Birds have lost twice in Toronto, both by 6-3 margins, and need to avoid a sweep today. They have fallen seven games behind the Blue Jays, who are 83-63 and have won 15 of 19 and 22 of 31 games. Toronto is 15-4 in its last 19 American League East games.

And Toronto has now won six of the last seven games between these teams, winning those six by five runs, four, four, three, three and three runs.

In the series the Orioles have three RBIs from Gunnar Henderson, two from Adley Rutschman and one by Terrin Vavra.

Henderson is a hitter on a tear, and is now batting .345/.387/.586/.973 after his first 16 MLB games with nine extra-base hits and 12 RBIs. After his first 16 games in the bigs, Rutschman had an OPS of .451 with just three extra-base hits and no RBIs.

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Toronto pulls away again in win over Orioles (updated)

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TORONTO – For the second day in a row, the Orioles had their frustrations on offense. And for the second day in a row, Toronto got one big swing to produce three runs that proved large in the fifth inning.

Toronto beat the Orioles 6-3 at Rogers Centre to take the first two games in this series. And that is the same score for the second day in a row as well.

With eight losses in 12 games, the Orioles (75-69) drop seven games back of Toronto and, for the moment, five games back of Tampa Bay for the third American League wild-card spot.

With hopes of a series win or even a sweep on Friday night, now the O’s have to win tomorrow or they will be swept three straight in Toronto.

The Orioles lost first baseman Ryan Mountcastle early today and we await further word if the issue will cause him to miss any time. Mountcastle was hit near the left elbow by a José Berríos 94 mph fastball leading off the O’s second. After a long meeting with head athletic trainer Brian Ebel and manager Brandon Hyde, he stayed in the game.

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O's game blog: Kyle Bradish to mound in Game 2 at Toronto

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TORONTO - After Adley Rutschman's two-run homer to left last night - his first major league homer off lefty pitching - the O's briefly had a 2-1 lead. But George Springer's three-run homer in the fifth put the Blue Jays ahead 4-2 and Matt Chapman's two-run homer an inning later extended that lead.

Toronto won the series opener 6-3 over Baltimore as the O's lost to the Blue Jays for the fifth time in the last six meetings, even though the season series is even at 7-7. Toronto has hit nine homers in those six games, scoring 37 runs.

So the Orioles (75-68) begin play today 4 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay for the third American League wild card, while also trailing Seattle by five games for the second wild card and Toronto by six for the first.

Last night, the O's were held to five hits or less for the fourth time in seven games, and three runs or less for the 11th time in 19 contests.

Toronto (82-63) won three of five games this week against Tampa Bay and then took Friday's series opener, its league-leading 39th comeback win. The Blue Jays have now won 10 of their last 13 and 14 of 18 games within the AL East. They are 34-27 on the season in the division. Overall, Toronto has won 14 of 18 and 21 of its last 30 games.

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Hyde pregame on the lineup, Vavra, Bradish and more

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TORONTO – The Orioles are starting four rookies today in Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson, Terrin Vavra and Kyle Stowers as manager Brandon Hyde looked to add lefty bats to his lineup.

In facing Toronto right-hander José Berríos (10-5, 5.07 ERA), they are facing a righty that yields an opponent OPS of .735 to right-handed hitters and .872 against lefty batters.

“We are pretty young out there. Wanted to put in the left-handers versus Berríos today,” said Hyde in the visitor dugout. “We’re pretty left-handed today. That’s a nice change over the few years I’ve been here, we’ve been pretty right-handed. So got a few lefties in against a tough right-hander. And they’re all young. We’re young, but we’re growing and our guys have been impressive and fun to watch.”

Wanting to get Vavra on the field, Hyde is starting him in left today with Stowers as the designated hitter.

Vavra is batting .255 with a .647 OPS over 26 big league games. He got to a .462 batting average start in his first seven major league games. But now he is 3-for-24 in sporadic playing time since Aug. 12.

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O's offense not productive enough in Toronto series opener

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TORONTO - There was a sense that maybe the Orioles offense was going to start trending up. That offense produced 11 hits each night in Washington, the first back-to-back games of double-figure hits by the Orioles since Aug. 5-6.

But then last night, in the critical series-opener at Rogers Centre, the O's produced just five hits, going 5-for-31 against Toronto's bullpen procession of seven pitchers as the Blue Jays won 6-3. The offense just came up short on this night and now the O's will need two straight wins to take this series.

Held hitless through the first three innings Friday night, the O's bats briefly came alive against lefty Yusei Kikuchi in the fourth when Cedric Mullins tripled and Adley Rutschman hit his first homer against a lefty as a big league player. It came in his 93rd plate appearance against a southpaw.

But other than those two hits, the Orioles went 3-for-29 the rest of the night. Gunnar Henderson hit a solo homer to left on an 0-2 pitch with two outs in the ninth. 

“You look at their numbers, they have a good bullpen," O's manager Brandon Hyde said of the Blue Jays, now 12-4 this month and 82-63 for the year. "And we’ve seen a lot of those guys. Give them credit, they threw extremely well. We didn’t have our best night offensively and we gave up a few homers and lost the game.”

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Toronto uses longball to come from behind and take series opener (updated)

Adley Rutschman Cedric Mullins black away

TORONTO – It took a while, but the Blue Jays showed off their power in the middle innings tonight. Two swings produced five big runs and what was a precarious one-run Orioles lead turned into a deficit that proved too big.

Matt Chapman hit two of Toronto’s three homers tonight and George Springer’s three-run shot put the Jays ahead in the fifth inning as they beat the Orioles 6-3 in the opener of a three-game series at Rogers Centre.

The Orioles (75-66) fall six games behind the Blue Jays in the wild card race. They lost for the seventh time in 11 games and for the fifth time in the last six games between these teams.

On a night the Blue Jays used a bullpen game on the mound, the Orioles didn’t get to either of their first two pitchers. But it was only the fourth inning when they saw lefty Yusei Kikuchi after the Orioles were held hit hitless at the outset by righty Trevor Richards in the first inning and righty Julian Merryweather for the next two.

But Adley Rutschman’s first major league homer off a left-handed pitcher gave the Orioles a 2-1 lead in the fourth. That was after Richards and Merryweather faced the minimum through three on a combined 42 pitches.

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O's game blog: The Toronto series begins

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TORONTO – The Orioles swept a brief two-game series this week in Washington by 4-3 and 6-2 scores and their two-city road trip continues tonight with the opener of a big three-game weekend series in Toronto.

The Orioles (75-67) and the Blue Jays (81-63) are separated by five games in the standings and will also play Saturday at 3:07 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 1:37 p.m. The Birds needed those wins at Nats Park, following a 4-6 homestand where they went 2-6 in the final eight games.

The Orioles are on a pace to win 86 games, which would be a 34-win improvement over last year. That would be an Orioles record, surpassing the 33-win gain from 1988 (54-107) to 1989 (87-75).

The Orioles are now 34-37 in road games for the season. But they have now won four road games in a row and also have taken eight of 11 and 12 of their past 18 away from Oriole Park. Since beginning the year going 3-10 in away games, they are 31-27 on the road.

The Orioles went 1-3 in their recent home series against Toronto and they are 7-6 this season versus the Blue Jays, splitting a four-game series, winning the first two in a rain-shortened series, taking two of three and then losing three of four most recently. So, they are 2-1-1 in four series against Toronto after going 0-5-1 in series and 5-14 in the 19 games in 2021 against the Blue Jays.

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Pregame notes from Toronto on series importance and more

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TORONTO – As the Orioles begin a huge weekend series in Toronto tonight, manager Brandon Hyde said yes, it’s a big series, but it doesn’t feel all that different to him and he doesn’t think it will be that way for his team either.

The Orioles (75-67) begin the series five games back of both Seattle and Toronto, the holders of the first two American League wild card spots. The O’s begin the weekend 4 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay for third AL wild card.

“I feel like we’ve been playing these games for about two months,” Hyde said this afternoon in the visitors dugout at Rogers Centre. “It kind of started that last series at Tampa. Didn’t it feel like must-win games in August? I don’t know why it felt that way, but it kind of did. So, I feel like we’ve been playing to try and hang in this thing for a while now.

“Before that Toronto series, we won five series in a row. Two tough series on the road. So I just hope we continue to play that way. I don’t think, because of the games we’ve been playing in so long and the attitude our guys have taken, I don’t think it’s anything different right now.”

Hyde is aware that win or lose, his players, most of them on the younger side, are gaining some great pennant race pressure experience.

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The O's improved play in Toronto and Gunnar Henderson's strong start

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Where just a few years ago the Orioles went winless for an entire season at Toronto’s Rogers Centre, the improved 2022 Orioles have tied one four-game series there and won a three-game series.

These are not the 2018 Orioles, who went 0-9 in Toronto and that included losses by 10, six and six runs.

But it didn’t start well for these O’s at Rogers Centre. They didn’t play there until June 13 and then lost the opener of a four-game series by an 11-1 score. It seemed then like same old, same old for the Birds north of the border.

But the next night, Ryan Mountcastle and Austin Hays homered as the Orioles picked up a big 6-5 win and the following game was a walk-off win for Toronto. But the O’s would split that four-game series when they hammered former Oriole Kevin Gausman for seven runs (five earned) in 2 1/3 innings, his shortest outing of the year.

When the Orioles returned to Rogers Centre last month they won the first two games of that series 7-3 and 4-2 before a loss by 6-1 which kept them from a three-game sweep.

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Heston Kjerstad's bat heated up late for Aberdeen, plus O's notes

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The Orioles’ high Single-A Aberdeen affiliate needs to win tonight to extend its season. Tuesday night the IronBirds lost 8-1 at Brooklyn in Game 1 of a best-of-three South Atlantic League semifinal series. Should Aberdeen win tonight at 7:05 p.m. at Ripken Stadium, the teams will play a third and deciding game tomorrow night in Aberdeen.

Aberdeen reached the SAL playoffs by going 43-23 and winning the first-half division title. Brooklyn won the second-half, when Aberdeen went 35-31 for an overall record of 78-54 under first-year pro manager Roberto Mercado.

Outfielder Heston Kjerstad was the only IronBird with a multi-hit game Tuesday, going 2-for-4 with a pair of singles. Kjerstad ended the regular season with a four-game hitting streak, going 7-for-16 with a double and homer. He batted .290 in September.

But overall in 43 games with Aberdeen, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 draft batted .233/.312/./362/.674 with eight doubles, two triples, three homers and 20 RBIs. This was after he tore it up for low Single-A Delmarva, posting an OPS of 1.201 in 22 games.

Mercado said in a recent interview that Kjerstad was indeed swinging it better later in the year.

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O's game blog: O's go for sweep in brief two-game series with Nats

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After producing a bit more offense last night then in several recent games, the Orioles hope they can have another night with 10 hits or more tonight. They will try to sweep a two-game interleague series at Washington.

The Orioles trailed 3-1 in the third inning Tuesday night but scored once in the fourth and twice in the fifth to beat the Nats 4-3. They had 11 hits and had produced that many just one time in the previous 21 games. They are now 31-7 on the year when they get 10 hits or more.

The Orioles hope that Ryan Mountcastle and Austin Hays are both starting to heat up again with the bats. Mountcastle went 2-for-3 with two walks in the win last night and hit his 22nd homer. He's batting .289/.360/.600/.960 in 12 games this month with four homers and 13 RBIs. 

Mountcastle has 60 home runs in his first 305 games, the quickest to 60 career homers in O's history. And his next hit will be the 300th of his career. Only six players in O's history have recorded at least 300 hits in their first 306 games - Trey Mancini, Manny Machado, Nick Markakis, Brian Roberts, Cal Ripken, Jr. and Eddie Murray.

Hays has gone 4-for-7 his past two games with a double and an RBI. His bloop double in the fifth inning scored the go-ahead run for the Orioles and their bullpen made the one-run lead stand up with four scoreless. It was Hays' 31st double which leads the team.

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More on the pitch clock coming, O's over Nats and farm notes

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When the 2023 season begins we’ll be checking on the usual things. Such as if some individual players get off to good starts and more importantly, how is the team doing?

But we will also be tracking the time of games. After MLB games averaged three hours and 10 minutes last year and are at 3:04 this year, MLB announced rule changes recently including the use of a pitch clock next year to improve pace of play.

Pitchers will have 15 seconds to pitch with no one on base and up to 20 seconds with a runner or runners on.

This definitely has worked to improve pace of play and lower game times on the farm this season. In Triple-A, the average time of game is two hours and 43 minutes, while it is 2:40 in Double-A, 2:34 in high-A and 2:36 in low-A.

“The overall time of the game (should improve) for sure,” O’s outfielder Kyle Stowers told me after seeing the clock at work this year on the farm. “So I think games will be getting done a little bit quicker. I would say in Norfolk the longer game tended to be around the three hour mark or 3:10 mark where most of the games were hovering around 2:45. Definitely helped the pace of play. It will be an adjustment though. I think it will take guys time to get used to.

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O's game blog: The road trip begins in Washington

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At 5 1/2 games back of a wild card spot with 22 games and seven series left to play, the Orioles resume their schedule tonight with their last interleague series of the year.

This afternoon Tampa Bay beat Toronto 4-2 in Game 1 of a day-night doubleheader and at game time tonight, Toronto is holding the third American League wild card spot but is just 1/2 game behind both Tampa Bay and Seattle. 

The Orioles (73-67) play at Washington (49-92) versus a Nationals team that has the worst record in Major League Baseball. But the Orioles can’t overlook any team right now and they split two games with the Nationals in June. Washington got swept three in a row over the weekend at Philadelphia, losing by scores of 5-3, 8-5 and 7-5. They have lost five of six overall after going through a 5-1 stretch.

The Nats season got off to a terrible start when they began 6-15 and 12-26 and never really got much better. The club’s run differential of -206 is second-worst in the majors to Pittsburgh. The Nats are 22-47 at home and 18-29 since the All-Star break.

On June 21 in Baltimore, Washington shutout the Orioles 3-0 behind Eric Fedde as Birds batters were held to just four hits. The next night, Tyler Wells pitched five scoreless as the Orioles posted their own shutout 7-0 in a game limited to six innings by rain.

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On O's farm, Aberdeen in playoffs tonight & Bowie still chasing the postseason

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The playoffs begin in several leagues around Minor League Baseball tonight. For the Orioles high Single-A affiliate, the Aberdeen IronBirds, they travel to Brooklyn for Game 1 of a best-of-three league semi-final series in the South Atlantic League.

Aberdeen (78-54) advanced by virtue of winning its division in the first half, going 43-23. Brooklyn (70-62) won the second-half going 40-26. This series winner will play the Rome-Bowling Green winner for the league championship. Aberdeen will host Game 2 with Brooklyn Thursday at 7:05 p.m. at Ripken Stadium and Game 3, if necessary, will be Friday in Aberdeen.

It may not mean much now, but Aberdeen was 13-5 in the regular season against Brooklyn, a New York Mets affiliate.

“I feel confident,” Aberdeen manager Roberto Mercado, in his first season as a pro skipper, said yesterday. “We had a chance to see a bunch of their guys they recently added, and they have some good arms, but we’ll be ready for them. It should be a great series.”

Right-hander Jean Pinto (4-6, 3.83 ERA) gets the opening game start for the IronBirds against right-hander Luis Moreno (8-7, 2.84) for the Cyclones. Pinto’s ERA was 1.13 his last six Aberdeen games.

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The search for runs and wins is on as the wild card math gets more challenging

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For a while the Orioles pitching was so good they could and did win games without scoring very much. They beat Houston 2-0 and 3-1 on the last road trip and added wins in Cleveland by scores of 4-0 and 3-0. Hard to lose when you don’t allow a run as the Boston Red Sox learned Sunday.

The Boston pitching made a first-inning run stand up as the Orioles lost 1-0 to the Red Sox. It’s their first home 1-0 defeat since Aug. 5, 2020 versus Miami.

Just Friday night the Orioles beat Boston 3-2 and they had a chance to win another series. But their offense just keeps coming up short and eventually it caught up with this team.

The Orioles (73-67) had a disappointing 4-6 homestand, especially since they started it going 2-0. But they ended it going 2-6.

“Very disappointing, yeah. I thought our guys battled today and Kyle Bradish was great. But you can’t get three hits and expect to win,” said manager Brandon Hyde.

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O's offense comes up empty in series finale loss to Boston (updated)

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Today the Orioles struggling offense met struggling lefty Rich Hill. The veteran southpaw got the better of it, throwing five scoreless innings to frustrate O’s hitters as Boston won the series finale.

The Red Sox got just one run and that was in the first inning, but their pitching made it stand in a 1-0 win at Oriole Park. Hill and four relievers teamed on a three-hitter.

Baltimore (73-67) has lost six of eight games overall and has lost back-to-back home series for the first time since May 31 through June 5 against Seattle and Cleveland. The O's completed a 4-6 homestand that they started 2-0.

The Orioles got an outstanding start from rookie right-hander Kyle Bradish, who allowed just two hits and one run over seven innings. He walked two and fanned three, throwing 93 pitches. But Bradish takes a tough-luck loss and is now 3-6 with an ERA of 5.01.

“Very disappointing, yeah," manager Brandon Hyde said about a losing homestand. "I thought our guys battled today and Kyle Bradish was great. But you can’t get three hits and expect to win.

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O's game blog: O's host Boston in series finale (game now underway)

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The Orioles hope the weather forecast allows some time to get today's game in versus the Boston Red Sox with the clubs set to wrap up this three-game weekend series. The O's won 3-2 Friday, limiting Boston to two runs. But they gave up season highs in runs and hits on Saturday in a 17-4 loss.

Today's game begins in a rain delay at the scheduled start time, with hopes that they can get this one in this afternoon.

Update: The game began at 2:17 p.m. after a delay of one hour and 12 minutes at the start.

Saturday's game was the Orioles most lopsided loss of the 2022 season.

Baltimore (73-66) plays Game 140 today, and is five games back of Seattle for the final American League wild card berth. They are 5 1/2 games behind Toronto and six back of Tampa Bay. Those three clubs hold the wild card spots as of today.

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