Difficult six-game stretch begins with a loss and further pitching injury concerns

As the Orioles began an important six-game stretch last night against the Phillies, the club with the best record in the National League and then the New York Yankees, the club with the best-record in the American League, it seems like a pretty important stretch of baseball.

How much will it say about how the Orioles will do the rest of this year? How much will it say about their chances to win this October?

Good questions that may not have answers right now. Success in this stretch doesn’t guarantee anything. But to see their team play well against two of MLB’s best will certainly make Birdland feel good.

How a good team stacks up against other good teams can be very important. Not just in the standings but for confidence. It can show a team that believes it can contend in October that they very well might be right.

So far this year the O’s have stacked up very well against good teams, a loss last night notwithstanding.

As of game time last night, these were the best five teams in win-loss percentage in MLB.

.690 – New York Yankees (49-22)
.676 – Philadelphia Phillies (46-22)
.662 – Baltimore Orioles (45-23)
.653 – Cleveland Guardians (43-23)
.600 – Los Angeles Dodgers (42-28)

There has been very little head-to-head play among those top five teams this year. But thus far, the Orioles are 3-1 in these matchups, the Dodgers are 2-1, the Yankees are 4-6 and the Guardians are 1-2. Going into last night the Phillies had not played another current top-five club.

Before last night, the O’s only previous series versus the top five was against the Yankees at home, where they took three of four games. The Yankees also went 1-2 versus the Dodgers and 2-1 against Cleveland. And that’s it, all the head-to-head matchups so far among the big five, the only clubs with records of .600 or better going into Friday night’s games.

Looking closer at the O’s schedule, they have been real good versus winning teams. They are 20-8 going into last night against clubs that as of Friday, were playing above .500 ball.

They have gone 3-1 versus the Yankees, 5-1 against the Red Sox, 4-2 versus the Royals, 3-0 against the Twins, 2-1 versus the Mariners, 2-1 against the Braves and 1-2 versus the Brewers.

So that is a win percentage of .714 to go 20-8. In eight series against clubs that as of Friday were above .500, the Orioles are 7-1.

But add a loss to that: But make that 20-9 coming out of Friday's game a 5-3 O's loss in 11 innings to the Phillies in front of a sellout of 43,987 at Oriole Park.

The Birds lost a game and maybe another pitcher to injury. Earlier this homestand it was key lefty reliever Danny Coulombe going to the injured list. And maybe now Kyle Bradish is headed there. For now, he is headed for further testing after leaving after five innings last night with elbow soreness. 

Last night's game saw the teams and fans have to endure a rain delay of an hour and 11 minutes before the top of the 11th inning. That is the inning where Alec Bohm's two-run double broke the 3-3 tie.

The Orioles watched Anthony Santander hit a game-tying solo homer in the eighth. But they went 1-for-13 on the night with runners in scoring position. And now they are 3-for-30 with RISP the past three games.

As they await further news and/or developments with Bradish, they hope Dean Kremer rejoins the rotation soon. He will make a rehab start Sunday at Triple-A. Today, righty Grayson Rodriguez (7-2, 3.27 ERA) faces right-hander Taijuan Walker (3-1, 5.40 ERA) in the second game of this series. 

The O's have little time to feel sorry for themselves about the loss Friday or the latest news involving Bradish. 

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