O's game blog: Jack Flaherty faces San Diego in series Game 2

Having allowed just four runs in the past three games, the Orioles have a three-game win streak on their West Coast road trip. The trip began with a 9-2 loss Friday at Seattle, but they have since won 1-0 and 5-3 over the Mariners, both in 10 innings, and by 4-1 last night at San Diego.

The Orioles (74-45) are a season-high 29 games over the .500 mark and lead the Tampa Bay Rays by three games atop the American League East.

Best records in MLB:

.644 - Atlanta (76-42)
.622 – Orioles (74-45)
.607 – Los Angeles Dodgers (71-46)
.597 – Texas (71-48)
.595 – Tampa Bay (72-49)

The Orioles improved to 26-13 in series-opening games with Monday's victory, and to 15-5 when the series opener is on the road.

Overall, the Orioles have won four of five, eight of 11, 11 of 15, 15 of 22 and 25 of their past 35 games. They are 38-22 on the road, 9-4 in August and 20-10 in the second half.

The Orioles' first run last night came via Ryan O’Hearn’s solo homer, his 10th of the year. In the fifth, Gunnar Henderson’s three-run double to left gave Baltimore a 4-0 lead.

Right-hander Grayson Rodriguez improved to 3-3 with a 5.44 ERA. He gave up just three hits and one run over a career-best seven innings on 95 pitches. He averaged 98.9 mph on his four-seam fastball, topping at 101 mph.

In six starts since he returned July 17 from the minors, Rodriguez has a 3.03 ERA, and 0.98 WHIP. Batters are hitting just .195 against him in this span, with an OPS against of .517. He has averaged 15.8 pitches per inning in this stretch, and last night was touching 100 mph in the sixth inning.

On this road trip the Orioles have been outscored 13-12 while winning three of four.

Rodriguez's outing last night was the 16th time in the last 17 games when the O’s starter allowed three earned runs or fewer. The rotation ERA is 3.56 in that span. If you take away Kyle Gibson allowing nine runs last Friday, the rotation ERA is 2.88 in the 16 games with three earned runs or fewer.

The Orioles are now 38-11 (.776) this season when they get a quality start, and 15-1 (.938) when they get an outing of seven innings or more.

Right-hander Jack Flaherty (8-7, 4.33 ERA) makes his 21st start tonight and third as an Oriole. He has faced Toronto and Houston and is 1-1 with a 3.27 ERA with the Orioles. In the two games he has allowed 10 hits and four runs in 11 innings, with four walks to 16 strikeouts, a .233 batting average against and .652 OPS.

As the Orioles have gone to a six-man rotation, it's worth noting that Flaherty does not have good numbers this year pitching on five days' rest, as he is tonight. But over his whole career, he's done well with that extra day.

This year on five days, he is 3-4 with a 5.94 ERA and .801 OPS in 10 starts. His ERA is 3.83 pitching on four days' rest. For his career, on five days' rest he is 24-15 with a 3.71 ERA and .659 OPS in 51 games.

In four career starts against San Diego, Flaherty is 2-0 with a 2.01 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 22 1/3 innings.

Right-hander Michael Wacha (8-2, 2.84 ERA), who has made 15 starts, is returning from the injured list tonight. He has been out since July 1 with right shoulder inflammation.

In his last 10 games before the IL stint, he gave up no more than two earned runs each time, generating a 1.19 ERA and .487 OPS. Wacha’s last major league game was July 1, when he gave up one run in five innings versus Cincinnati.

Wacha, now with his fourth team in the last four years, went 2-0 with a 5.40 ERA last year against the Orioles. In nine career starts he is 2-1 with a 5.87 ERA against the Orioles, and O’s batters have a .971 OPS against him in those games.

O's closer Félix Bautista secured his AL-leading 32nd save last night, good for third in MLB. Bautista has secured a win or save in 39 of his 52 appearances (75.0%) this year. That would be the third-highest such percentage in O's history, behind Randy Myers (77.0%, 47-of-61) in 1997 and Lee Smith (82.9%, 34-of-41) in 1994, per the Elias Sports Bureau. Bautista is looking to become the seventh Oriole (eighth time) in team history to lead the league in saves and the first since Zack Britton locked down 47 in 2016. Jim Johnson has the team record of 51 saves set in 2012.

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