O's game blog: Corbin Burnes looks for win No. 10 against the Cubs

With a team ERA of 5.78 the last 17 games, and having allowed 19 runs Saturday and nine last night, the Orioles could use a well pitched game tonight in the second of their series with the Chicago Cubs.

Enter right-hander Corbin Burnes (9-3, 2.32 ERA), who is looking to become a 10-game winner in his 19th start of 2024. Burnes was selected to pitch in the All-Star Game and could even be chosen to start for the American League.

He has strong credentials for that. He ranks second in the league in ERA (led by Kansas City's Seth Lugo at 2.21). He is third with 14 quality starts, one off the league lead, and is tied for fifth in opponents OPS at .590. He ranks seventh in both batting average against (.215) and WHIP (1.021).

The Orioles are 12-6 in his outings and Burnes is 5-1 with a 1.78 ERA and 1.121 WHIP in 10 home starts, in which the Orioles are 7-3.

Since April 26, Burnes has made 12 quality starts in a 13-start span, going 6-3 with a 2.16 ERA. He has allowed a .592 OPS in this stretch. 

Burnes' 2.32 ERA is the lowest mark for an Orioles starting pitcher through his first 18 starts in a season since Jim Palmer in 1975 at 1.78. And it is the second-lowest mark for a pitcher through his first 18 starts to begin an Orioles career all-time, only behind Mike Cuellar in 1969 at 2.25.

The Orioles (57-34) begin tonight leading the American League East by three games over New York and by 6 1/2 games over Boston. The Yankees are 6-17 their past 23 games and have not won two in a row since June 11-12. Since June 15, Boston is 15-5. And even though they have given up a lot of runs in that span - they won last night 12-9 over Oakland - they have outscored their past 20 opponents, 111-100.

The Cubs are 43-49, in last place in the National League Central, and are 10 games behind division-leading Milwaukee. They have won four of their past five games, scoring 29 runs.

Lefty Shota Imanaga (7-2, 3.16) will face the O's tonight. Like Burnes, he is headed to the All-Star Game. He signed with the Cubs as a free agent in January after pitching since 2016 in Japan. 

Imanaga, 30, gave up three runs in six innings in his last outing against Philadelphia and has allowed two earned runs or fewer 12 times in 16 starts. Lefty batters have a .590 OPS against him and right-handers are at .668, but he allows a batting average of .286 with an .877 OPS when pitching with runners in scoring position.

The Orioles went 4-3 on their last homestand against the Guardians (1-2) and Rangers (3-1) from June 24-30, tied for their worst homestand of the season, joining April 26-May 2. At 29-18 (.617), the O's own the fourth-best home record in the AL this year and the seventh-best in the major leagues.

Since the start of 2023, the Birds have gone 78-50 (.609) at Oriole Park, owning the best home record in the AL and the fifth-best home record in the majors behind the Brewers (.623, 76-46), Dodgers (.633, 81-47), Braves (.638, 81-46), and Phillies (.643, 83-46).

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