O's game blog: Looking for a win in the series and homestand finale

The Orioles have played eight series this year that were not decided until the third and final game, and they are 5-3 in those games. They play another one today after splitting the first two games of their series with the Cleveland Guardians.

The Orioles (35-20) are 5-2-1 this month in series, and they are 12-4-1 in 17 series for the year, going 5-2-1 in home series.

The American League East as of today:

Tampa Bay, 39-18

Orioles, 35-20, 3 GB

New York, 34-23, 5 GB

Toronto, 29-26, 9 GB

Boston, 28-26, 9.5 GB

Baltimore went 3-3 against Cleveland in 2022, and the Orioles are 11-4 versus AL Central teams this season. Cleveland has won or tied the season series with the Orioles the last five seasons. Under manager Terry Francona, Cleveland is 34-28 against the Orioles since the 2013 season.

At 35-20, the Orioles have 35 wins before June 1 for just the second time in team history. The 1997 Orioles had 36 wins before June.

The Birds, at least for one night, broke out of their recent offensive slumber, scoring seven runs in the first two innings of an 8-5 win last night. Gunnar Henderson drove in a season-high three runs and Anthony Santander added a three-run triple. The O’s had scored just eight runs their previous four games and 11 in the last five before Tuesday night.

Santander is batting .344/.432/.625 (33-for-96) with seven doubles, one triple, six home runs, 17 runs scored, 20 RBIs and 13 walks in 26 games in May after slashing .213/.280/.362 (20-for-94) in March/April.

He has reached base safely in 23 of 26 games this month and has a hit in 19 of those games, including 11 multi-hit efforts. His 1.057 OPS in May is second in the AL and fifth in MLB. For the month, he also ranks fourth in the AL and sixth in MLB in on-base percentage, tied for fourth in the AL in RBIs and extra-base hits (14), fifth in the AL and 10th in MLB in slugging percentage and total bases (60), tied for fifth in the AL in hits, sixth in the AL in batting average and tied for sixth in the AL in home runs. On the season, he leads switch hitters with an .853 OPS. 

Of Baltimore's 55 games this season, 49 have been decided by four or fewer runs, tied with the Los Angeles Angels for the most in MLB. The O's have gone 32-17 in those games, the most wins and best winning percentage (.653) in MLB. The O's are 23-13 in games decided by three or fewer runs, the most wins and best winning percentage (.639) in MLB.

Lefty Keegan Akin (1-1, 4.85 ERA) will get the start today as an opener for the Orioles and is expected to pitch an inning or two. He has allowed 18 hits in 13 innings on the season. He has an ERA of 3.12 his past nine games, throwing a scoreless outing in seven of those nine games.

Right-hander Austin Voth (1-1, 4.10 ERA) is expected to follow him to the mound as the bulk innings pitcher for Baltimore. 

Right-hander Shane Bieber (4-3, 3.04 ERA) will make his 12th start for Cleveland. In 71 innings he has yielded 68 hits with a 1.225 WHIP, 2.4 walk rate and 6.2 K rate. He has allowed two earned runs or less in seven of his 11 starts, throwing six innings or more nine times. He has nine quality starts, and in four career games versus Baltimore is 3-1 with a 1.45 ERA. In 31 career innings against the Orioles he has walked just three with 48 strikeouts. 

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