After ending the first half with an impressive five-game win streak, the Orioles look to extend the streak as their second-half schedule begins tonight. They host the Miami Marlins for three games this weekend and then play three more at home to end the homestand against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In the third series out of the All-Star break, the Orioles (54-35) will play four games on the road against the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays (58-35). The Orioles win streak has seen them close to just two games back of Tampa Bay and the clubs are even in the loss column.
When last seen, the Orioles hit a season-high six homers and scored seven runs in the fifth and six more in the sixth last Sunday to rout Minnesota 15-2 and sweep that three-game series at Target Field by a 24-5 score. They put up 24 runs against the team that began that weekend leading MLB in team ERA and on Sunday was second by one point to Atlanta, 3.55 to 3.56.
The Orioles have been on a hot streak in recent games batting with runners in scoring position. They went 11-for-21 (.524) in three games in Minnesota and are 23-for-52 (.442) in the past five games with RISP.
This surge has lifted the club’s batting average for the season with RISP to .273 which is fourth-best in the AL behind Texas (.297), Tampa Bay (.289) and Boston (.284).
The Orioles hit the break by tying a season-high at 19 games above the .500 mark. So they can set a new 2023 high mark with a win tonight. Baltimore’s .607 win percentage at the break is the eighth-best in team history and best at the All-Star game since the 1997 season.
So as the second half gets underway, it finds the Orioles chasing their first playoff spot since the 2016 season and first AL East title since 2014.
The Orioles’ five-game streak, during which they have scored 44 runs follows a stretch where they lost six of seven games and scored just 18 runs.
The O’s Sunday outburst on offense – where they produced season highs in runs and homers – may have overshadowed how well they pitched against the Twins last weekend. They allowed 18 hits and five runs with six walks to 27 strikeouts.
The O’s resume play tonight riding a stretch of five straight quality starts where their starters allowed just six total earned runs and pitched to an ERA of 1.67. They have seven quality starts in the past nine games and an ERA of 2.28. They have 16 quality starts in 27 games since June 8 with a rotation ERA of 3.67 in that span. Meanwhile the O’s bullpen did not allow a run in 8 2/3 innings in Minnesota.
Miami is 8.5 games behind first place Atlanta in the NL East, trailing the team with the best record in MLB. But the Marlins have the fourth-best record in the majors and would be in first place in four other divisions. So would the Orioles with the third-best record in MLB.
Miami ended the first half winning five of its last seven and 10 of its past 15 games. Miami is 23-21 on the road and 20-7 in interleague games. That includes a 4-2 mark versus two AL East clubs going 1-2 versus Toronto and 3-0 against Boston.
Right-hander Dean Kremer (9-4, 4.78 ERA) will start the series opener, making his 19th start. The Orioles are 12-6 in the first 18. They are 9-3 and Kremer has pitched to an ERA of 3.95 in his past 12 starts. This since his ERA was 6.67 at the end of April.
He is pitching on eight days' rest tonight since allowing two runs (one earned) over seven innings on Wednesday July 5 at Yankee Stadium when he got his ninth win.
In five interleague starts this year, he is 4-1 with a 3.14 ERA and 1.151 WHIP.
Right-hander Sandy Alcantara (3-7, 4.72 ERA) gets the start for Miami. A year ago Alcantara was the NL Cy Young Award winner, going 14-9 with a 2.28 ERA. But he has struggled at times this season, allowing four runs or more in five of his past eight starts. His ERA is 4.56 in that span.