O's game blog: Dean Kremer faces Oakland in series Game 3

After wins by 5-1 and 12-8 the last two nights, the Orioles look to take Game 3 of their four-game series with the Oakland Athletics this evening at Camden Yards. Ryan Mountcastle tied the team single-game RBI record, driving in nine runs in Tuesday’s win in Baltimore.

Mountcastle’s fast 11-game start has him leading the majors in RBIs and tied for the lead in homers. He is batting .289/.320/.711/.1.031 with four doubles, five homers and 18 RBIs. He ranks fifth in the American League and ninth in the majors in slugging. He's tied for 10th in the AL and 22nd in the big leagues in OPS.

Three O’s batters rank among the top 10 in the American League in OPS today, with Adley Rutschman fifth (1.118), Austin Hays ninth (1.058) and Mountcastle 10th.

Two pitchers who have struggled in their first two starts take the mound tonight. Right-hander Dean Kremer (0-0, 10.13 ERA) pitches for Baltimore and lefty Ken Waldichuk (0-2, 14.45) goes for Oakland.

Last season Kremer went 8-7 with a 3.23 ERA, but this season he has allowed five runs in three innings at Boston and four runs in five innings at home to the New York Yankees. So over eight combined innings he has allowed 11 hits, nine runs and 1.875 WHIP.

Lefty batters have gone 6-for-15 with two homers against him, batting .400 with a 1.238 OPS. Kremer’s homer rate, which was a solid 0.8 last year, is 3.4 at this early point. His walk rate is up from 2.4 to 4.5, so there is some work to do as he takes the mound against the Athletics.

The Yankees drafted Waldichuk, 25, in round five in 2019. He was New York’s No. 10-rated prospect last year and is Oakland’s No. 5 heading into this season.

But he has allowed 17 hits and 14 runs in 8 2/3 innings thus far, facing the Angels and Rays. Tampa Bay hammered Waldichuk in his last start, collecting eight runs on eight hits, including four home runs, in just three innings. He has allowed seven homers in his first two starts. Last year for the A’s he gave up five homers over 34 2/3 innings.

Getting back to Mountcastle, so far this year when batting with runners in scoring position he has been quite clutch, going 5-for-10 with four homers and 16 RBIs. Last season he did not drive in his 18th run until Game No. 31 on May 23.

Statcast data hammers home the point how hard he is hitting the ball right now. Mountcastle's average exit velocity of 95.9 mph ranks in the 97th percentile in baseball, so the top three percent. He is in the 98th percentile in expected slugging, 96th in barrel percentage, and on defense is in the 95th percentile in Outs Above Average.

Showing how important the count can be, at this early point – and yes in the small sample – his OPS is 2.215 when he is ahead in the count and .464 when he is behind.

Against lefty pitching he is 7-for-14 with four homers, 12 RBIs and a 1.895 OPS.

Oakland (2-9) has lost six straight and nine of the last 10 games after winning their opener. Their 2-9 (.182) mark is the worst record in the majors. It also matches the worst record in Oakland history after 11 games (1979, 1987, 1998, 2001). The 1998 and 2001 Oakland clubs lost a 12th to fall to 2-10.

The A's went 60-102 (.370) last year, which was the second-lowest winning percentage in the majors and in Oakland history. They have lost the first three series of the season for the fourth time in Oakland history (1979, 1987, 2001).

The Orioles (6-5) have not been two games over .500 yet this year, but are now one game over the fourth time. They were also 1-0, 3-2 and 4-3.

Shortened start and late runs allowed doom Orioles...
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