O's game blog: O's host Minnesota in series opener

After facing a hot-hitting Brewers team over the weekend - and losing two of three games - the Orioles welcome the Twins to town tonight to begin a three-game series that will wrap up the current homestand. 

The Twins (6-8) are in fourth in the American League Central, four games behind the division-leading Guardians.

Minnesota is batting .185 as a team through 14 games and that ranks 15th and last among all clubs in the American League and 30th and last in the majors. The Twins .281 OBP is 13th in the AL and they are 13th in slugging (.325) and OPS (.606). 

The Twins average 3.5 runs per game to rank 12th in the AL and 27th in the majors. They scored 20 runs in splitting four games over the weekend at Detroit. But they have scored three runs or fewer nine times and they have the fourth-highest strikeout total as batters in the AL at 147.

The Twins and Orioles are playing each other for the first of six games in 2024. Minnesota will host the O's for three games to complete the regular season from Sept. 27-29. The Twins went 2-4 vs. Baltimore last season, going 2-1 at Camden Yards and 0-3 at Target Field.

Last season marked Minnesota's first losing season to Baltimore since going 1-5 in 2016. Minnesota has also lost four straight versus the Orioles, their longest losing streak to Baltimore since losing five in a row from April 4 to May 11, 2016.

But the Twins are 38-21 against the Orioles overall since the start of 2014 and that marks the most wins against Baltimore among non-AL East teams in that span. Rocco Baldelli has a career managerial record of 16-9 against Baltimore for a .640 winning percentage, his highest of any opponent.

The O's are 9-6 and sit in second place in the division at 2.5 games behind the Yankees. All five AL East teams are at .500 or better right now, the only division that can say that. 

The O's Colton Cowser was today named the AL Player of the Week. Cowser won his first career honor and is the first Orioles player to win since his teammate Gunnar Henderson won last season on June 12th. Each of the last three Orioles to win POW have been rookies, including Cowser, Henderson and Ryan Mountcastle in 2021.

Cowser is batting .441 with six doubles, four homers, 13 RBIs and an OPS of 1.444.

Among AL rookies right now, Cowser ranks first in FanGraphs.com Wins Above Replacement at 1.2. Also in OPS, homers, batting average, OBP, slugging (.971), extra-base hits (10), total bases (33) and RBIs. 

Among MLB batters with at least 35 plate appearances, he ranks first in average, slugging percentage, and OPS and seventh in on-base percentage.

As a team, the O's OPS of .731 ranks sixth-best in the AL. And they are scoring 5.47 runs per to game to rank first in the AL and tied for fifth in the majors.

O's closer Craig Kimbrel recorded the 420th save of his career yesterday against Milwaukee, two behind Billy Wagner for seventh in MLB history. Only Boston's Kenley Jansen (424) has more among active players. Kimbrel now has 1,203 strikeouts, the fourth-most all-time as a reliever; he trails Hoyt Wilhelm (1,363), Goose Gossage (1,340), and Lee Smith (1,225).

Baltimore pitchers have fanned 139 batters in 2024, the most strikeouts through 15 games in O's history. The total would be tied for the most in the first 16 games (2020). Only three other times in team history has the pitching staff fanned 135+ batters through the first 16 games: 2020 (139), 2023 (137), and 2021 (136).

Lefty Cole Irvin (0-1, 8.10 ERA) will make his third start tonight after allowing 14 hits and nine runs in 10 innings combined versus Kansas City and Boston. 

Righty Louis Varland (0-2, 9.00 ERA) starts for the visitors. The team is 0-2 in his games this year, where he gave up three runs in four innings at Milwaukee and six runs in five innings versus the Los Angeles Dodgers.

He throws his four-seam fastball 42 percent of the time, at an average velocity of 95.7 mph and opponent batters are 7-for-16 this season off that pitch with three home runs. 


Mullins contributes at the plate and in the field ...
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