And then there were two. Two games left in the 2023 regular season as the American League East champion Orioles (100-60) tonight host last-place Boston (77-83) in the third game of a four-game series at Oriole Park.
The Orioles won their 100th game and clinched the division title with Thursday's 2-0 win. They lost to Boston 3-0 last night as they were held to three hits and blanked for the ninth time this season.
The Orioles offense has scored two runs or fewer in four of the last six and six of the last nine games. Baltimore batters have scored eight runs over the last four games and 26 in the past nine. They have hit just three homers in those nine games.
In this series the Orioles are 7-for-55 (.127) with two doubles and one homer, scoring two runs and going 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position.
The loss Friday ended Baltimore's five-game win streak by a combined 15-3 score. Over longer stretches, the Orioles have still won nine of 13, 17 of 26 and 29 of the last 44 games.
If the Orioles get win No. 101, they will tie the 1971 team as the fourth-winningest O's club ever. If they finish with 102 wins, they tie the 1979 squad as third-winningest.
Right-hander Kyle Gibson (15-9, 4.86 ERA) will be making his 33rd start. He has thrown 187 innings to rank eighth in the AL, and that total is the third-highest in Gibson's career. His career high was 196 2/3 innings in 2018 with Minnesota, and his second-most was 194 2/3 with the 2015 Twins.
Gibson is tied for third in the AL in wins, trailing co-leaders Chris Bassitt of Toronto and Zach Eflin of Tampa Bay, who each have 16. Gerrit Cole of the Yankees has 15.
Sunday at Cleveland, Gibson gave up just one run over seven innings as the O's picked up an important win to end the last road trip. He has 17 quality starts on the year, and the team is 13-4 in those games.
In four September games, Gibson is 2-1 with a 2.96 ERA.
The Orioles are 31-19 in AL East games and will finish the season with their first winning record within the division since 2016. With one more win over Boston in the last two days, the 2023 Orioles will have a winning record over every other AL East club for the first time since 2014. They went 10-3 versus Toronto, 8-5 against Tampa Bay, 7-6 versus New York and are 6-5 against Boston.
The Orioles lost their first two AL East series of this year and have gone 10-0-3 in their past 13 division series pending the result of this one.
Right-hander Kutter Crawford (6-8, 4.23 ERA) gets the start for Boston, his 23rd of the season. The team is 9-13 in his 2023 starts and he has not faced the Birds this year.
Over his past five starts, he is 0-2 with a 6.85 ERA and .752 OPS against.
He has a good road record, going 6-3 with a 2.71 ERA on the year away from Fenway Park.
Earlier today the Orioles announced that Gunnar Henderson was named Most Valuable Oriole for 2023 in a vote by local media.
Henderson leads MLB rookies with 6.2 bWAR and 28 home runs, and is tied for the lead with 65 extra-base hits; he leads AL rookies with 4.7 fWAR, 99 runs, 82 RBIs, 272 total bases, nine triples, and 10 game-winning RBIs.
His 6.2 bWAR ranks third among AL position players and, along with his .492 slugging, would be the best single-season marks by a rookie in O's history. His 65 extra-base hits are tied with Cal Ripken, Jr. for the most in a rookie season in O's history. He is the first rookie in team history with 20+ doubles, 5+ triples, 20+ homers, and 10+ stolen bases.