O's game blog: Looking for two in a row over Arizona

Beginning their series against Arizona last night, the Orioles were just one game over .500 this year versus National League teams. They had gone 1-2 against Pittsburgh and Milwaukee, 3-0 versus Cincinnati and 1-1 against Washington.

A 6-5 record became 7-5 against the NL with Friday’s 4-2 win to start a nine-game homestand.

Cole Irvin won his fourth straight start, the first time he has done that in his career. And he became the first Oriole to win four in a row since Kyle Bradish from Aug. 20-Sept. 8, 2023.

He ran his scoreless innings streak to 22 2/3 innings before allowing Ketel Marte’s third-inning solo homer. That is the longest scoreless streak for the club since Dean Kremer went 22 2/3 from June 17-July 4, 2022.

Irvin, who threw a season-high 95 pitches, improved to 4-1 with a 2.86 ERA while allowing two runs over 5 2/3 innings. Over his past four starts he has given up just two runs on 15 hits over 25 2/3 for an ERA of 0.70 in that span.

Orioles starting pitchers have allowed six runs the last six games, with six walks to 39 strikeouts over 36 1/3. In the past 10 games, Baltimore starters have a 1.66 ERA. Over the last 17 games, with the Orioles going 12-5 in this span, the starting pitchers have a 2.28 ERA with nine quality starts, and they’ve allowed two earned runs or fewer in 14 of the 17 games.

For the year, the Orioles’ team ERA of 3.27 ranks fourth-best in the American League and sixth in the majors. Their rotation ERA of 3.18 is third in the AL and fifth in the big leagues. The bullpen ERA of 3.42 is sixth in the league and ninth in the majors.

Today is another John Means Day, the second of the 2024 season. Means made his season debut Saturday night at Cincinnati and allowed three hits over seven scoreless innings, surrendering no walks and striking out eight. In his first major league start since Sept. 29, 2023, he threw 85 pitches.

He got 19 whiffs on 44 swings and the Reds went 3-for-23 against him. It was his most swings and misses since the 25 he got in his no-hitter on May 5, 2021 at Seattle.

“That was unbelievable. I know he feels amazing right now,” manager Brandon Hyde said after Means pitched last weekend at Great American Ball Park. “To go out and do that, seven shutout innings, first time off of rehab, that was way more than we anticipated and expected. Shows you the competitor Meansie is. And how off balance he can keep big league hitters. Changeup was fantastic.

“I really had no idea what to expect today from him. You know he had a setback. Like I talked about before, results in rehab games don’t matter, but you do want them to have success. That last start there gave him, I think, the confidence to pitch up here again. But you don’t know what is going to happen, on the road, in a bandbox. Unbelievable effort."

Means has faced Arizona just once in his career, on the road on July 24, 2019, and he gave up three runs and six hits over 3 1/3 innings.

In 14 career interleague starts, he is 3-5 with a 3.59 ERA and an OPS against of .673.

Gunnar Henderson hit his 40th career double yesterday to become the fifth Oriole to reach 40 doubles and 40 home runs prior to turning 23.

Orioles with 40+ HRs and 40+ 2Bs before turning 23:

* Boog Powell - 70 homers, 50 doubles 1961-1964.

* Eddie Murray - 54 homers, 61 doubles 1977-1978.

* Cal Ripken Jr. - 45 homers, 66 doubles 1981-1983.

* Manny Machado - 50 homers, 91 doubles 2012-2015.

* Gunnar Henderson - 43 homers, 40 doubles 2022-2024.

Henderson is the only Oriole to reach 40 homers, 40 doubles and 10 triples before his 23rd birthday

Camden Yards has seen the highest rate of home runs in any big league stadium this season.

MLB Parks, combined HRs per game – 2024:

2.80 – Camden Yards, Baltimore
* 2.77 – Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles
* 2.70 - Petco Park, San Diego
* 2.53 - Angel Stadium, Anaheim and Minute Maid Park, Houston

Camden Yards only saw 2.12 combined home runs per game in 2023, which ranked 25th in the majors.

The Orioles (25-12, .676) still have the best-record in the AL and second in bigs behind Philadelphia (27-12, .692). They have won six of their last seven, eight of 10, 13 of 18 and 17 of 23 games. They are on a 109-win pace.

Arizona (18-21), the defending National League champion, saw a four-game win streak end Friday. The Diamondbacks are now 2-11 in series-opening games.

Today they start right-hander Ryne Nelson (2-2, 5.23 ERA), who is making his sixth start. For the year, he has a 1.597 WHIP with a 2.6 walk rate and 7.0 strikeout rate. The team is 2-3 in his starts, and in his last one he gave up four runs in five innings against San Diego. 

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