The Orioles' 5-2 loss at Cleveland Thursday night was just their seventh in 26 games in road series openers this year. They try to get back to the winning tonight at Cleveland after scoring three runs in losing the past two days.
The Orioles (95-58) begin play tonight leading the American League East by 1 1/2 games over Tampa Bay (94-60). Their magic number for a division clinch is seven.
Just 12 O's teams in club history have won 96 or more games, a feat they are chasing tonight. The last was the 2014 AL East-winning Orioles, who went 96-66.
While they've lost their last two games, the Orioles have won four of six, 12 of 19, 14 of 23 and 29 of the last 45 games.
Rookie Gunnar Henderson went 0-for-4 with a walk last night. He is sitting on 63 extra-base hits, which ranks 11th-best in the AL. It is also two behind Cal Ripken Jr.'s Orioles rookie record for EBHs of 65 in 1982. With 27 homers, Henderson needs one more to tie Ripken's 1982 mark with 28, which is second-most by a Baltimore rookie. Ryan Mountcastle holds that single-season record, with 33 in 2021.
Cleveland (73-81) snapped a three-game losing streak last night and improved to 20-28 since July 30. The Guardians are now 40-36 at home and 15-14 versus AL East teams.
Cleveland is 20-11 against the Orioles since 2018 and is 3-1 this season against the Birds.
Right-hander Dean Kremer (12-5, 4.17 ERA) gets the start tonight, and the Orioles have a pretty remarkable 23-7 record in his 2023 starts. They have won the last five in a row and are 12-1 his past 13 starts.
In those 13 games, Kremer is 4-1 with a 3.08 ERA in 73 innings, allowing a .210 batting average and .610 OPS.
Kremer has allowed two earned runs or fewer 16 times this season and has given up one or zero earned runs nine times. He has 14 quality starts and the Orioles are 12-2 in those games.
But Baltimore starting pitchers have thrown 5 2/3 or fewer innings nine times the last 13 games. And they have just three quality starts in that span, during which the rotation has thrown 68 1/3 innings and the bullpen has been needed for 48 innings.
Right-hander Shane Bieber (5-6, 3.77 ERA) rejoins the Cleveland rotation tonight. He went on the injured list July 14 with right forearm irritation. He recently made one rehab start at Double-A and one at Triple-A, throwing 7 1/3 combined hitless innings, allowing two runs (one earned) with four walks and 11 strikeouts.
Bieber is the 2020 AL Cy Young Award winner.
The most runs he has given up in his 19 starts this season came May 31 in Baltimore. He allowed eight hits and sevens runs in four innings, throwing 82 pitches. Anthony Santander hit a two-run homer against him, while Ryan McKenna produced a two-run single and Ryan O'Hearn an RBI double.
In five career starts against Baltimore, he is 3-1 with a 3.09 ERA and 0.857 WHIP.