O's game blog: Looking for another series win

KANSAS CITY – The Orioles can record another series win – it would be their seventh in a row – should they win one of the last two games in the series at Kansas City, with Game 2 tonight. Winning series openers - and the Orioles are now 10-0 in such games - provides the team a chance to rack up series wins.

While the Orioles club record is nine straight series wins, done by the 1968 edition, the last O’s teams to win seven consecutive series within a season were the clubs in 1977, 1979, 1981, 1984 and 1986, per STATS.

Last night also produced another game in which the O’s batters did so much better seeing a pitcher for the second time. This year they have a team OPS of .696 when facing a pitcher for the first time, and it’s now .994 when facing him the second time through after last night.

Kansas City lefty Ryan Yarbrough retired every hitter in order to start Monday’s game, so the O’s went 0-for-9 against him the first time up. They went 5-for-6 with a double, homer and three walks the second time through, batting around in a five-run fourth inning. That OPS for the Orioles leads the American League in batting the second time through, by a big margin, with Toronto second at .823 and Tampa Bay third at .782.

Last night the Orioles scored 10 or more runs for the third time this season and tied their season high with 15 hits.

Ryan Mountcastle hit two-run homers in the fourth and fifth innings and had a five-RBI night, topping his RBI total from his previous 17 games combined. This is since he had a career-high nine RBIs on April 11 versus Oakland.

Catcher Adley Rutschman recorded his third game this year with at least four hits, following a five-hit Opening Day game at Boston and a four-hit game on April 9 vs. the Yankees. This matches Toronto’s Bo Bichette - who has two games with five hits and one game with four - for the most games with at least four hits in the major leagues this season. He is the second Oriole to record three games with at least four hits within the team’s first 29 games of a season, following Adam Jones in 2015.

Rutschman is now batting .315/.429/.472/.901 to rank sixth in the American League in batting, third in OBP and 12th in OPS. His 23 walks give him the highest total in the AL.

Kansas City is now 7-23, matching 2005 for the worst 30-game start in franchise history. And the game marked their 10th consecutive loss at Kauffman Stadium, matching the second-longest home losing streak in franchise history, trailing 11-game home skids from May 6-June 4, 2013 and Sept. 21, 2011-April 23, 2012.

The Royals suffered their ninth blown-lead loss, but this was the first time they’d lost a multi-run lead since last Sept. 30 at Cleveland (led 3-0, lost 6-3). K.C. lost despite hitting at least four homers for the 21st time in franchise history and the first time in four years, since Aug. 8, 2019 at Detroit, a 10-8 defeat. They allowed 11 runs, one shy of their season high of 12 from April 18-19 vs. Texas.

O’s right-hander Kyle Gibson (4-0, 3.93 ERA) will make his sixth start tonight as the series continues. The Orioles are 5-1 in his starts and he has allowed two earned runs or fewer three times and pitched three quality starts. On Thursday at Detroit, in the road-trip opener, he gave up three runs and eight hits over 4 1/3 innings, throwing 102 pitches.

Batters are hitting just .077 with a .296 OPS against Gibson with runners in scoring position, going 2-for-26. Lefty batters hit .328 with a .972 OPS against him overall, while right-handers bat .209/.568.

In 26 career games - including 24 starts - versus Kansas City, Gibson is 10-5 with a 3.79 ERA and 1.300 WHIP.

Righty Zack Greinke (0-4, 6.10 ERA) will oppose Gibson. The 39-year-old Greinke has allowed 39 hits in 31 innings with a 1.452 WHIP, 1.7 walk rate and 6.4 K rate. The Royals are 1-5 in his starts.

In his first three starts of the new season, his ERA was 3.31. But over his past three it is 9.20 as he has yielded 19 hits and 15 runs over 14 2/3 innings. Opponents have hit .312 with a .945 OPS against him in those games.

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