Chasing their 98th win and with a magic number of three to clinch the American League East championship, the Orioles host the Nationals tonight to begin a two-game series at Oriole Park.
The O's (97-59) won the last two games of their series at Cleveland and lead the AL East by 2 1/2 games over Tampa Bay with six to play.
Lefty John Means and righty Kyle Gibson provided big outings that led the Orioles to those wins and provided much-needed rest for the bullpen. They pitched a combined 14 1/3 innings allowing six hits and two runs.
It was just the second time this year the Orioles got back-to-back outings of seven innings or more from their starter. That also happened June 24-25 with Dean Kremer and Kyle Bradish.
The Orioles are 51-15 (.773) when they get a quality start and 18-2 (.900) when their starter goes seven innings or more.
Only seven O's teams in club history have won 98 or more games, the last was the 1997 wire-to-wire division champs that went 98-64.
Five O's teams have won 100 games:
* 1980 (100-62)
* 1979 (102-57)
* 1971 (101-57)
* 1970 (108-54)
* 1969 (109-53)
A 6-0 finish and the 2023 Orioles would have the third-most wins of any club in team history.
The Nationals (69-88) are in last place in the National League East. They were just eight games under the .500 mark at 61-69 on Aug. 26. But they are 8-19 since that date.
The Nationals are 35-41 on the road, 27-20 in one-run games, 23-21 versus AL teams and 33-34 in the second half.
They have lost three of four and nine of their past 13 games.
On April 18-19, the Orioles posted back-to-back shutouts by scores of 1-0 and 4-0 at Nats Park. Kremer went 6 2/3 in the opener and Bradish went six innings the next night as O's pitching allowed just 11 hits in the two games with three walks to 18 strikeouts. Washington batters hit .169 with a .402 OPS in that series.
Bradish (11-7, 3.01 ERA) will make his 29th start tonight. He ranks third in the AL in ERA and opponent OPS (.624), fifth in WHIP (1.071) and second in home run rate (0.8/9).
Bradish has 17 quality starts on the year to rank tied for eighth in the AL. He has six in his past seven games and has allowed two earned runs or fewer 14 times in his past 17 games since June 14.
In that span, Bradish is 9-5 with a 2.38 ERA and the Orioles are 11-6 in those games. Opponents have batted .194 with a .564 OPS since June 14.
Bradish is 4-4 with a 2.57 ERA and 1.005 WHIP in 11 home starts for the year. In 10 games against NL opponents, he is 4-2 with a 2.86 ERA and 1.182 WHIP.
The passing of Brooks Robinson: The Orioles released a statement from the team and the Robinson family:
“We are deeply saddened to share the news of the passing of Brooks Robinson. An integral part of our Orioles Family since 1955, he will continue to leave a lasting impact on our club, our community, and the sport of baseball.”
Such tough news coming so close to game time tonight.
I will have more on this in my Wednesday morning entry, but I was lucky to meet Brooks Robinson several times and interview him. He could not have been nicer and we are so, so lucky he played every game as a Baltimore Oriole.
A tough day in Birdland with the loss of a Hall of Fame player and person.
RIP to No. 5.