O's game blog: Beginning to wrap up the 2023 regular season

After clinching the American League East with a win Thursday night, the Orioles still have three games to play in the 2023 regular season, beginning with tonight at home versus Boston. At 100-59 coming into tonight, the Birds could finish with 103 wins, which would be third-most in club history.

Last night's 2-0 win gave the Orioles their 10th AL East championship and first since the 2014 season.

Manager Brandon Hyde joins Orioles Hall of Famer Earl Weaver as the only O's skippers to lead a team to 100 wins. The O's are the first team in the AL and second team in major leagues to reach the century mark this season, joining the Braves (103-56), who won their 100th game on Sept. 24.

The Birds are 52-27 (.658) since the start of July, the best record in the AL and the second-best mark in the majors during that time, behind only the Dodgers (.667, 52-26). The team is 162-108 (.600) since the start of June 2022, the best record in the AL and third-best in big leagues during that time, trailing only the Braves (.668, 181-90) and Dodgers (.647, 176-96).

The Orioles have now won five in a row by a combined 15-3 score. Thursday's win was the O's 12th shutout of the year - a combined three-hitter - their second shutout in three games and the third in the past 12 games.

During the five-game winning streak the O's team ERA is 0.60 with five walks and 38 strikeouts. Opponents have batted .120 with a .319 OPS in this stretch. 

The O's team ERA is 3.96 for the year, a season-best mark, and that ranks seventh best in the AL, where the team average ERA for the year is 4.29.

In the last five games O's starting pitchers have allowed three runs in 33 1/3 innings for an ERA of 0.81. In that span the O's bullpen has been nearly perfect, throwing 11 2/3 scoreless innings on one hit with no walks and 13 strikeouts.

Now 48-30 at home and 31-18 against division teams, the Orioles have won nine of 12, 17 of 25 and 29 of their past 43 games. Boston has been shut out in back-to-back games for the first time since Sept. 30-Oct. 1, 2022 at Toronto.

Boston (76-83) has lost five in a row, seven of eight and 11 of 13 games. Boston's record since Aug. 27 is 7-22, the worst in the majors in that stretch.

Anthony Santander blasted his 28th home run of the season Thursday night, a solo shot, to put the O’s on the board in the first inning. He hit that one 405 feet with an exit velocity of 108.5 mph. Santander had gone 19 straight games without a homer, but that blast tied Gunnar Henderson for the team lead. He now has nine RBIs his past eight games.

Heston Kjerstad delivered a pinch-hit RBI double in the eighth. Three of his first six career hits have gone for extra bases.

Lefty John Means (1-1, 2.60 ERA) will make his fourth start tonight, coming off an outing at Cleveland in which he allowed just one hit and one run over 7 1/3 innings. He has thrown 75, 86 and 96 pitches in his previous O's games. In eight career games versus Boston, he is 4-2 with a 3.70 ERA.

Righty Nick Pivetta (9-9, 4.25 ERA) will start for the Red Sox. He pitched seven scoreless against the White Sox in his last game. He has a 3.08 ERA with four walks to 33 strikeouts over 26 1/3 innings in five September outings.

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