After 6-3 and 2-0 wins this weekend, the Orioles (26-13) can complete their third series sweep of the year this afternoon at Oriole Park when they host the Pittsburgh Pirates (21-19).
Tyler Wells went seven innings Saturday night, allowing just one hit as Baltimore recorded its fourth straight win and fourth 2023 shutout. The Orioles begin today three games back of Tampa Bay for first in the American League East, and have won 17 of their past 23, 20 of 27 and 22 of 30.
Baltimore pitching has been on an eight-game roll:
* The team ERA is 2.21 over those eight games with 21 runs allowed.
* The rotation ERA is 1.74 in that span, allowing two earned runs or less seven times.
* The last three O's starters have allowed eight hits and one unearned run in 19 innings.
* The O's have five quality starts in the eight games and are 10-1 this year when getting one.
* O's pitchers have allowed three runs or fewer in six straight games.
But in trying for a sweep today, the Orioles will face a good pitcher who has been on his own roll since late last year. The Birds have two sweeps this year: a two-game sweep at Washington and a three-game one at home versus Detroit.
Right-hander Kyle Gibson (4-2, 4.40 ERA) will make his ninth start of 2023 for the Orioles in today’s series finale. After an outing Monday versus Tampa Bay, he has thrown 47 innings for the season, allowing 50 hits – including six home runs. He has a 1.340 WHIP with a 1.1 homer rate, 2.5 walk rate and 5.9 strikeout rate.
He took the loss Monday to the Rays, allowing six hits and two runs over six innings with two walks and four strikeouts on 93 pitches. He has allowed two earned runs or less in four of his eight games with four quality starts. In three home starts, he is 2-1 with a 1.93 ERA and 1.125 WHIP.
When pitching with runners in scoring position this season, Gibson has allowed just five hits in 35 at-bats for a .143 batting average and .484 OPS.
In three career games against Pittsburgh, he is 2-0 with a 2.75 ERA. He last faced the Pirates on Aug. 27, 2022 for Philadelphia and pitched seven scoreless with nine strikeouts on 103 pitches.
He faces right-hander Mitch Keller (4-1, 2.72 ERA), who will be making his ninth start of the year and is on a pitching roll dating to late last August. Over eight games this year, Keller has a 1.087 WHIP with a 2.5 walk rate and 10.1 K rate. He allows a batting average of .214 and OPS of .597 to all hitters.
He pitched his first career complete-game shutout in his last start on Monday versus Colorado. It was a four-hitter with one walk and eight strikeouts on 103 pitches, with 77 for strikes.
Keller, who averages just 15.7 pitches per inning, has not allowed a home run over his past four starts – covering 26 innings. In four road starts, he is 1-1 with a 3.57 ERA.
Dating to last Aug. 30, Keller is 5-3 with a 2.48 ERA in 15 starts with 11 quality starts. In that span, his WHIP is 1.11, and he gives up 7.1 hits per nine and 0.7 homers with a .214 batting average.
A second-round pick by the Pirates in the 2014 MLB Draft, he faced the Orioles once in his career and took a 1-0 loss on Aug. 5, 2022 in Oriole Park. He gave up the one run over six innings.
The AL East heading into today
Tampa Bay at 30-11 (.732)
Orioles at 26-13 (.667), 3 GB
Toronto at 23-16 (.590), 6 GB
New York at 23-18 (.561), 7 GB
Boston at 22-18 (.550), 7.5 GB
As of today, four of the six AL playoff teams would come from the AL East. Boston, in last place in the division, would be tied for first with Minnesota atop the AL Central.