Kyle Stowers drives in four as O's rout Boston 11-3 in series opener

Maybe it didn’t exactly happen because of this, but it felt like it did. When O’s lefty Cole Irvin pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the fourth this afternoon, the O’s held their 2-0 lead.

That generated some momentum and then their offense rewarded the lefty with a quick-strike, five-run inning when they did most of the damage hitting to the off field.

Today the Orioles took control of the game early.

The five-run outburst drew the approval of a Memorial Day crowd of 40,951 at Oriole Park as the Orioles hammered Boston 11-3 to take the opener of a three-game series and six-game homestand.

The good offensive vibes that started for the club during the four-game sweep in Chicago carried back to the East Coast. Today, Ryan Mountcastle had three hits and Kyle Stowers drove in four while Adley Rutschman and Cedric Mullins knocked in two each. 

The Orioles are now 34-18 with a season-high five-game win streak. They improved to 18-10 at home, to 8-2 versus American League East opponents and to 12-6 in series-opening games.

The O’s put up the early offense versus a Boston club that began this series second in the AL in team ERA (at 3.09) and second in rotation ERA (at 2.95). And Boston entered with an ERA of 2.48 in 20 day games.

But after scoring 23 runs on 35 hits and hitting eight homers in Chicago, the offense kept coming today.

And they got another good outing, although not a deep one, from lefty Cole Irvin. He was back in the rotation in the spot that was held by John Means, who went on the injured list Thursday with a left forearm strain.

Today Irvin continued his good pitching when starting. He went five scoreless innings on four hits with three walks and six strikeouts. His pitch count got elevated to 92 and he was taken out for Jacob Webb to start the Boston sixth.

Hyde praised Irvin's effort in his seemingly seamless return to the rotation after toiling in bullpen.

"He's got the great mindset," Hyde said, acknowledging the lefty's having to shift gears in his pregame preparations once again. "He's a team-first guy."

Asked about coping with another change in his routine, Irvin replied, "It's not easy, but that's what I'm asked to do, so it's my job to find a way to make it easy."

With a 2-0 lead in the Boston fourth, Irvin pitched out of that one-out, bases-loaded jam. He had stranded runners at the corners in the second inning. But in the fourth he got a generous third-strike call versus No. 8 hitter Dominic Smith and fanned Ceddanne Rafaela on three pitches.

Through the fourth, Boston was 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and had left six on base.

Irvin got the win to improve to 5-2 and lower his ERA to 2.84. He threw his fourth scoreless start. Over his past five starts, he is 5-0 with an ERA of 0.59, allowing just two runs in 30 2/3 innings in those games. Today he was making his first start since May 10 after a stint in the Baltimore bullpen.

The O’s had taken an early 2-0 lead on righty Cooper Criswell on Jordan Westburg’s RBI double in the second and Rutschman’s sacrifice fly in the third, scoring Jorge Mateo after a leadoff double.

Then they kicked down the door during their five-run, three-hit fourth. Mountcastle doubled, Colton Cowser reached on an error and Jordan Westburg walked to load the bases. Stowers fell behind 0-2 in the count, pulled even at 2-2 and then hit a two-run double to left for the 4-0 lead. Mullins followed with a two-run triple to left center on a 2-0 pitch and it was 6-0. Mateo’s sac fly to right – another hit to the opposite field – made it 7-0.

The O’s added four in the seventh to blow it completely open. Rutschman doubled in a run, Mountcastle produced an RBI single and Stowers a two-run single to complete his 3-for-4, two-double and four-RBI afternoon.

"That was one of the more complete offensive games of the year," Hyde said.

In the top of the eighth, right-hander Thyago Vieira made his team debut after being activated this morning. To say the least, it did not go well. He faced five batters, walked four, issued a wild pitch and allowed a three-run triple. After 26 pitches and just nine for strikes, Cionel Pérez replaced him with runners on the corners and no outs. Pérez fanned two while pitching out of that jam to end the top of eighth up 11-3.

Boston falls to 27-27 for the year, to 13-8 in day games, to 4-7 versus the AL East and to 17-11 in road games.

The Orioles had a quick turnaround today from their Midwest trip and not a lot of rest leading into this game. But they still won big. Another win in this series would extend their streak to 18 consecutive series against AL East clubs without losing one. Since the start of last year they are 40-22 (.645) in division games. 

In the past five games, the Orioles have scored 34 runs on 48 hits. 

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