O's game blog: A chance for a series win against the Seattle Mariners

Facing a first-place Seattle team, one that was 20-12 since April 10 with a team ERA of 2.63, the Orioles won the series-opening game last night. And now a win in one of the next two days will give them yet another series victory.

The Orioles offense, one that scored 3.7 runs per game the previous 14 games to rank 21st in the majors in that span, broke out last night in a 9-2 win with 10 hits and five for extra bases. Gunnar Henderson, Adley Rutschman and Colton Cowser all had two-hit games. Henderson and Cowser each drove in two runs as the Orioles went 4-for-9 with runners in scoring position and had five players drive in runs.

The first five batters scored to start the game, the first time the Birds have done that since the first six scored to begin a July 30, 2023 game against the Yankees. Jorge Mateo and Henderson tripled to begin the seventh inning, the first time the Orioles have hit back-to-back triples since July 3, 2008 versus Kansas City (4th inning, Adam Jones and Brandon Fahey). Rutschman and pinch-hitter Austin Hays followed with doubles, marking the first time the team has hit four consecutive extra-base hits since Sept. 23, 2018 at New York (6th inning, Trey Mancini, Tim Beckham, Renato Núñez and Joey Rickard).

Henderson and Jordan Westburg have hit leadoff homers the last two games, the sixth time in O's history the team has hit a leadoff homer in at least two consecutive team games and the first time since Melvin Mora did it June 28-29, 2002. Baltimore leads the major leagues with five leadoff homers this season; Henderson's four leadoff home runs are tied with Philadelphia's Kyle Schwarber for the most this season.

The O's have an majors-best 2.12 ERA in their last 15 games (since April 29). During that time, the Birds have surrendered an majors-low 92 hits while holding opponents to a .186 batting average. The 2.12 ERA is the best mark in a 15-game span in a single season by the Orioles since Sept. 6-21, 2014 (2.06).

In this span the Orioles have allowed two runs or fewer 10 times, the team is 11-4 and the pitching staff has an OPS against of .560.

For the year, the O's team ERA is down to 3.23, which ranks third-best in the American League and is fourth in the big leagues.

2.87 - New York Yankees
2.96 - Boston
3.17 - Philadelphia
3.23 - Orioles
3.24 - Los Angeles Dodgers

Rutschman enters today ranked third in the American League in hits (55), fourth in batting average (.318), and tied for sixth in total bases (89). He is tied for the AL lead and tied for second in the majors in multi-hit games (18). He has an extra-base hit in four straight games, matching his career high set earlier this season, from May 2-5; he had his three-game home run streak snapped last night.

Since April 19, over 24 games, Rutschman is batting .346/.364/.625/.989 with five doubles, eight homers, 14 runs and 21 RBIs. Over that period, he leads the AL in batting average and hits, ranks second in total bases (65), is tied for second in homers, and is third in RBIs.

The Orioles (28-14) have won five of seven, nine of 12, 16 of 23 and 20 of their past 28 games. They begin play today one game behind New York for the AL East lead with the third-best record in the majors.

The Orioles are 9-3-2 in series play, including a mark of 5-2-1 in series at Oriole Park.

Right-hander Grayson Rodriguez (4-1, 3.71 ERA) comes off the injured list to start today's game. His last start was versus the Yankees on April 29, when he pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings. He was on the IL with right shoulder inflammation. Rodriguez has allowed two earned runs or fewer in five of his six starts.

Right-hander Luis Castillo (4-5, 3.31 ERA) gets the ball for the visitors. He had an ERA of 6.89 and OPS against of .950 in his first three 2024 starts. But he has since pitched six consecutive quality starts, throwing to a 1.86 ERA and a .545 OPS against. 

To activate Rodriguez today, the Orioles designated for assignment right-hander Mike Baumann. He has pitched to a 3.44 ERA this season and had allowed just one run over 8 2/3 innings in recent appearances. He has gone 13-5 with a 4.45 ERA for the Orioles since the 2021 season. This move could end his tenure with Baltimore.

"Big Mike," it was very clear, was a heckuva teammate and very well liked within the Orioles clubhouse. Manager Brandon Hyde said this was a tough day for him.

"Mike has been with us for a while," Hyde said. "Think about the first half he had for us last year. How many games he helped us win, how good he was. On top of that, just an incredible person and unbelievable teammate. First-class pro in every single way and so well liked by the guys in our clubhouse. Been a gloomy morning."

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