O's game blog: Birds try to avoid being swept in Houston series finale

HOUSTON - After their series win at Yankee Stadium produced such good vides, the game of baseball struck back at the Orioles this weekend in Houston. They were 11 runs behind on Friday night and held to one run and four hits Saturday as they lost by 14-11 and 5-1 scores.

The Orioles (49-27) were not swept for 106 consecutive regular-season series, a run that ended when they were swept last month at St. Louis. A loss today and they will have been swept twice in the past 10 series.

Between the two series they played very good baseball, going 4-0 in Chicago against the White Sox, 2-1 in each of two home series versus Boston and Tampa Bay, and then 2-2 in Toronto and 4-0 at Tampa Bay. The club then went 2-1 against Atlanta and Philadelphia and in New York against the Yankees.

They went 7-0-1 in eight series since St. Louis but need a win today to avoid their second 0-3 series of the year.

The Orioles had scored 28 runs in two games, 35 in three and 51 in their past six until they were shut down by righty Ronel Blanco and two relievers on Saturday.

So the Orioles have lost two in a row, three of five and five of their past nine games. They have won 10 of 15, 15 of 23 and 20 of their past 29 games.

Jordan Westburg's solo homer in the second inning was the only O's scoring on Saturday as the team set a club record with a home run in their 21st straight game. The Yankees hold the major league record, homering in 31 straight games in 2019.

Houston (37-40) has won five of six and nine of their past 14 games and is 21-19 at home. They are three games under the .500 mark for the first time since April 8 (4-7).

Houston has won 11 of its past 17 series, going 30-21 over a 51-game stretch.

On the mound today for Baltimore will be right-hander Albert Suárez (3-1, 2.05 ERA). Heading into his start Tuesday at New York he had a 1.61 ERA. It had been just 1.08 over his previous nine games.

But he walked a season-high five batters and gave up three runs over 3 2/3 innings in that game in the Bronx.

Suárez, who has never faced Houston, allows a .217 batting average and .702 OPS to lefty batters, while right-handed batters go .222/.559 against him.

Lefty Framber Valdez (5-5, 3.91 ERA) gets the start for Houston. He finished 11th for the American League Cy Young Award in 2020 and was fifth in 2022 and ninth last year. In those past two seasons he went a combined 29-17 with a 3.13 ERA, producing an ERA+ of 129.

A two-time All-Star, Valdez allows a .628 OPS against the first time through a batting order, .616 the second time and .833 the third time.

In one start last season against the Orioles, he gave up six runs over seven innings, falling behind 5-0 in the second inning. In that game he gave up a two-run homer in the first inning to Ryan Mountcastle and a two-run shot in the second to Adley Rutschman.

In four games against the Orioles, he is 0-0 with a 4.98 ERA, allowing a .287 batting average and .831 OPS to Baltimore batters.

Cedric Mullins went 2-for-3 with a triple on Saturday. He is batting .378 (14-for-37) his past 10 games with three doubles, a triple, homer and three RBIs.

When he walked his first two times up on Saturday, Rutschman had reached base in 10 straight plate appearances to that point, dating to Thursday. He was the first Oriole to do that since Cedric Mullins reached in 11 in a row from June 4-6, 2021.

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