O's game blog: O's face Shane McClanahan in Game 2 of series

The Orioles, who are 3 ½ games out of the final American League playoff spot, could move over the .500 mark tonight with a win as they continue their seven-game homestand. They beat the Rays 5-1 last night and host the second of a four-game series tonight.

The Orioles (48-48) improved to 13-6 in July with six games left in the month with Monday’s win. So they have a second straight winning month, after going 14-12 in June, for the first time since May and June 2016.

The Orioles are 2-2 on this homestand, 10-2 over their past 12 home games and 27-19 at home for the season. The Orioles went 27-54 at home last year, the worst home mark in the AL. The Orioles are 7-4 in their last 11 AL East home games.

Baltimore has won five of its last seven games against Tampa Bay at Oriole Park since May 20 after losing nine straight at home against the Rays from May 18 to Aug. 29, 2021 and 11 of 12 games at Oriole Park against the Rays from Sept. 18, 2020 to Aug. 29, 2021.

Overall, the Orioles have won 13 of 17, 18 of 27 and 24 of their past 37 games. They are 27-18 since June 1 and 41-34 since May 1.

The Baltimore bullpen was outstanding once again in last night’s victory, throwing six combined scoreless innings on four hits. They had no walks and eight strikeouts. And the O’s ‘pen has allowed one run or less 57 times on the season.

The O’s improved to 21-10 when scoring first. The Orioles have won 17 games without hitting a home run, including Monday’s contest, and that is second-most in the majors to the Guardians with 18.

Tampa Bay (52-44) had won 11 of its previous 13 AL East games until Monday's loss. The Rays have lost their last three games, two to the Royals and the series opener here. They are 21-26 in road games.

O's right-hander Spenser Watkins (3-1, 3.93 ERA) will make his 13th start tonight and first since before the break on July 13 against the Cubs. He gave up one run over five innings that night, and has allowed one earned run or less in each of his past four starts. His ERA is 1.19 (3 ER/22 2/3 IP) in that span. 

The Orioles will certainly face a big challenge against Rays lefty Shane McClanahan (10-3, 1.71 ERA). He ranks first in the majors in ERA and WHIP (0.795). He ranks second in the majors in batting average against at .176.

McClanahan is on a good roll, allowing just six earned runs over his past seven starts for an ERA of 1.17 with seven walks and 58 strikeouts over 46 1/3 innings. In those seven starts, opponents have hit only .140 with an OPS of .425 against him.

McClanahan was the starting pitcher for the AL team in the All-Star Game last week at Dodger Stadium. He allowed an RBI single to Mookie Betts and solo homer to Paul Goldschmidt in the first inning. He became the second pitcher in club history to start the All-Star Game, following David Price in 2010, and was the youngest pitcher to start the All-Star Game since the Mets' Matt Harvey in 2013.

His 1.71 ERA was the lowest by a qualified starting pitcher before the All-Star break in club history. And it marked the lowest before the break by an AL starter since Boston's Clay Buchholz (1.71) in 2013.

The Orioles won their 48th game of the season last night, improving to 48-48. Last year, the O's did not win their 48th game until game 150 on Sept. 20, and the 2019 Birds did not win the 48th game until game 147 on Sept. 13. The 2018 Orioles only won 47 games.

Entering today's games, the O's .649 winning percentage (24-13) since June 11 is the third-best in the AL and the fifth-best in the majors over that time. The team had a 10-game winning streak from July 3-13, tied for the fifth-longest in a single season in O's history and the longest since the team won 13 in a row from Sept. 7-22, 1999.

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