Behind a better-than-expected rotation, a bullpen that ranks seventh in the league in ERA, a defense that leads the American League in double plays and a rejuvenated offense, the Orioles have gotten on a roll. They will look to keep it going tonight and win a series if they get a victory at St. Louis.
With Tuesday’s series-opening 5-3 win over the Cardinals, the Orioles have won three in a row, five of six and seven of their past 10 games. They are 10-9 over the last 19 games and ended a four-game road losing streak last night.
It was another good night for the starting pitching as rookie Kyle Bradish allowed just two runs over seven innings with 11 strikeouts. He threw 90 pitches and had a 45 percent whiff rate on his slider. After Harrison Bader hit a two-run inside-the-park homer in the sixth, Bradish proceeded to strikeout the side and then fanned two more batters in the seventh inning.
The O’s have gotten four consecutive quality starts and now have seven for the season. In the four games, O’s starters have an ERA of 2.39 allowing seven earned runs over 26 1/3 with just one walk to 24 strikeouts.
O’s starting pitchers rank seventh in the AL with an ERA of 3.75. Those starters have allowed two earned runs or less in 23 of Baltimore’s 30 games. The team ERA is 2.50 during the O’s 5-1 run.
The O’s bullpen has allowed just one earned run over 19 innings in the last six games. The team ERA is 0.47 ERA in those six games since May 4, the best ERA in the major leagues over that stretch. Minnesota relievers have the next lowest ERA during that span at 0.96. So far on the year, the O’s ‘pen has thrown 123 2/3 innings, the third-most in the AL and tied for seventh in the majors.
The O’s offense, which scored just 24 runs over the season’s first 12 games, is now averaging 4.61 runs per game by scoring 83 over the last 18 games. The Orioles are batting .293/.344/.459 as a team in May, the best batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS (.803) in the AL this month. The Orioles also lead all of baseball with 90 hits since May 1 and the Nationals are the only team in the majors with a better batting average since the start of the month (.301).
The Orioles have turned 37 double plays, the most in the AL and the second-most in the majors, behind the Rockies with 43. The O’s turned two three times in last night’s win.
Right-hander Spenser Watkins (0-0, 3.22 ERA) will make his sixth start tonight in Game 2 of this three-game series. He has allowed 21 hits and eight earned runs over 22 1/3 innings with a 4.0 walk-and-strikeout rate. The Orioles are 3-2 in his outings, and he has allowed two earned runs or less four times in five games. Tonight he makes his 16th career start.
Watkins has made two career starts versus National League teams with an ERA of 6.43. In order this year, his pitch counts have been 57, 67, 76, 69 and 76.
Righy Miles Mikolas (2-1, 1.53 ERA) starts for St. Louis. He is having a strong season through six games, allowing six earned runs all year over 35 1/3 innings with a WHIP of 0.991, a 1.8 walk rate and 7.1 strikeout rate.
Mikolas, a seventh-round pick in 2009 by San Diego, ranks among the NL leaders in ERA (second in NL and also fourth in the major leagues), WHIP (10th in NL) and opponent batting average at .214 (14th in NL).
Mikolas ranks in the top 17 percent in the major leagues in average exit velocity against, the top eight percent in hard-hit percentage and the top 21 percent in expected ERA. The Cardinals are 4-2 in his games, and he has allowed one earned run or less four times and has three quality starts.