O's game blog: Albert Suárez pitches series opener against Atlanta

After an eight-game road trip – ending with a four-game sweep in St. Petersburg against Tampa Bay and a 6-2 record – the Orioles' next homestand begins tonight. 

It will be a challenging one as they face Atlanta (35-28) and Philadelphia (45-20)- the clubs with the fourth-best and best records in the National League.

This year the Orioles are 8-9 versus National League teams, going 2-3-1 in those series. In order, they went 1-2 at Pittsburgh and then 2-1 at home against Milwaukee. They were 3-0 at Cincinnati and 1-1 at Washington. They were 2-1 in Baltimore against Arizona and 0-3 at St. Louis.

The Orioles improved to 6-1 this season against Tampa Bay with their four-game sweep, their first-ever four-game road sweep of the Rays. Baltimore won those games by a combined 25-7 score. The O's produced 42 hits, including eight doubles, four triples and nine home runs. In their past 10 games they have hit 25 homers, including hitting two or more eight times. They are 30-4 in 2024 when hitting two or more home runs.

With their earlier four-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox, the Orioles have two four-game sweeps in one season for the first time since 1987. The Tampa Bay sweep was their fifth this season of three games or more.

Overall, the Orioles have won four in a row, nine of 12 and 14 of their past 18 games.

Baltimore pitching continued to excel in the Rays series, allowing just seven runs and four earned runs in the four games. They allowed 22 hits in that series while allowing seven walks and getting 43 strikeouts.

Over the last 12 games, Baltimore pitching has allowed two runs or fewer nine times and put up a 2.03 ERA in that span. O's opponents hit .214 with a .567 OPS in that span 

MLB team ERA leaders since May 29:

1.84 - Philadelphia
2.03 - Baltimore
2.33 - Texas
3.13 - Los Angeles Dodgers

For the year, O’s pitchers have a 3.15 team ERA that ranks third in the majors. The Baltimore rotation ERA of 3.06 is third in the majors, and the 3.29 bullpen ERA ranks fourth-best.

Right-hander Albert Suárez (2-0, 1.83 ERA) will make his seventh start and 14th appearance in the series opener. His last three games were as a starter, and he has gone 0-0 with a 1.93 ERA over 14 innings.

Suárez has a 1.37 ERA over 19 2/3 innings in his past eight games. In his six games as a starter, he is 1-0 with a 2.15 ERA and 1.125 WHIP.

The O’s tonight face one of the Braves' best in lefty Max Fried (6-2, 2.93 ERA), who will make his 13th start. Fried already has two complete games and one shutout.

He has thrown seven innings or more in three straight and five of his last six starts, and Atlanta is 9-3 in his outings.

Fried, who was fifth in voting for the NL Cy Young Award in 2020 and was second in 2022, has gone 3-0 with a 1.13 ERA his past three starts.

Gunnar Henderson's leadoff homer last night was the 23rd leadoff homer on the first pitch by an Oriole since pitch data began in 1988, and the first since Austin Hays on June 9, 2023 versus Kansas City.

The Orioles, who have hit 104 longballs so far this year, are the only team in the majors with triple-digit home runs. That is the most homers through the first 65 games in O's history. The most through 66 games is also 104, by the 2016 team. Baltimore has five players with at least 10 home runs, the most in the major leagues this season (no other team has more than three players with 10 or more homers).

Atlanta and Baltimore have played 51 games since the advent of interleague play in 1997, with the Braves going 27-24 (.529) all-time against the Orioles. The Braves are 5-1 against the Orioles dating to the 2021 season. Atlanta swept the last series the clubs played at Oriole Park, winning all three games over Baltimore in 2021.

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