O's game blog: Looking for a series victory at Houston

Now 6-1 at Houston since the start of the 2021 season, the Orioles can win the series tonight if they take Game 2 of this three-game set at Minute Maid Park.

The Orioles (94-56) lead the American League East by 2 1/2 games over Tampa Bay (92-59) and the Birds have a magic number of nine to clinch the division championship.

On Sunday the Orioles trailed heading to the last of the eighth, ninth and 10th innings and won. Last night they trailed at the end of the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, yet won. They beat two different playoff teams in those games, going 2-0 when trailing after eight innings. Through Saturday, they were 1-46 when behind at the end of eight.

The Orioles now lead the major leagues with 48 comeback wins, with Cincinnati second (46) and Philadelphia (41) third.

In winning three in a row, Baltimore has outscored the Rays and Astros by 21-11.

The Orioles recently had a four-game stretch in which they scored six total runs. They answered that by scoring 21 over the past three contests.

Over longer stretches, the O's have scored 75 runs the past 12 games and 182 over the last 29 games, for 6.3 per game in that span. In those 29 games, the team is batting .288/.346/.467/.813.

The Orioles are now 28-14 in one-run games.

Right-hander Kyle Gibson (14-9, 4.98 ERA) will make his 31st start tonight, and the Birds are 17-13 in the first 30. Tampa Bay's Zach Eflin leads the AL with 15 wins, with Gibson and Toronto's Chris Bassitt next at 14. Gibson's 14 wins are a career high.

The O's recently, however, are not getting many deep starts. While their starters allowed just two earned runs in 18 innings the past three games, they have thrown five or fewer innings seven times the last 10 games. Baltimore has just two quality starts in this 10-game stretch.

With 175 1/3 innings pitched on the year, Gibson is one of just 14 Baltimore pitchers since the 2010 season to throw 175 or more. It has happened just three other times since 2016, with Kevin Gausman doing that in 2016 and 2017 and Jordan Lyles reaching the mark last year. Since 2010, Wei-Yin Chen pitched 175 innings or more three times while Gausman, Jeremy Guthrie and Chris Tillman did so twice each.

Gibson has a strong career record against Houston, going 4-3 with a 2.45 ERA in 13 games with nine quality starts and one complete-game shutout.

Righty Hunter Brown (11-11, 4.61 ERA) makes his 28th start, with Houston at 14-13 so far. Brown faced the O's once this year, on Aug. 10 at Baltimore, and gave up five runs and eight hits over six innings. 

In 13 home starts, Brown is 4-7 with a 5.60 ERA. Opponent batters have cleaned up on him when they put the first pitch in play, batting .424 with an OPS of 1.102 on an 0-0 count.

The Orioles have won 11 of their last 16 games, 13 of 20, 17 of 25, 20 of 29, 23 of 34, and 28 of 42. The Birds have won or split their last eight series, nine of 12 series, and 12 of 16.

Cedric Mullins' three-run homer in the ninth last night turned a 7-5 deficit into an 8-7 lead and eventual win. He is now batting .340 with an OPS of 1.092 when hitting with runners in scoring position.

Seven of Mullins' 15 home runs this season, including each of his last three, have either tied the game or put the O's in the lead. 

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