O's game blog: Shooting for a series win against the Seattle Mariners

With a walk-off win yesterday on Ryan McKenna’s two-run homer to right in the last of the 10th, the Orioles moved a game closer to first place, strengthened their hold on a wild card playoff spot and set themselves up to try to win another series.

The Orioles (46-29) are 4 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay, which lost Saturday. They have won three of their past five games and nine of the last 14. They are now 4-4 in extra innings, 11-8 in June and 23-14 at Oriole Park.

They have split the first two games of this series and are 7-4 in rubber match games.

They came up with their fourth walk-off win of the year, and they have had five such losses. They have walk-off wins on April 13 against Oakland and April 21 and April 23 against Detroit. Adley Rutschman’s homer ended the Oakland game and Adam Frazier was the batter for the other two previous walk-off wins.

McKenna, who drilled a 95 mph fastball 393 feet to right, produced his first career walk-off hit.

Earlier Saturday, Anthony Santander hit a solo homer and went 4-for-4 with two RBIs. The homer was his 13th of the year to lead the team, and he has hit four over his past five games. McKenna had replaced Santander in right field in the top of the ninth. So that No. 3 spot in the batting order went 5-for-5 Saturday with two homers, three singles and four RBIs.

McKenna is the sixth Oriole in the last 10 seasons to hit a game-ending homer after entering off the bench, and the first since Rougned Odor on May 20, 2022 vs. Tampa Bay, per the Elias Sports Bureau. He also hit the first walk-off longball in extra innings by the O’s since Odor's in the 13th inning of that game against the Rays.

With those four homers over a five-game span, Santander is the first Oriole to do so since Gunnar Henderson from June 8-13. He produced his first four-hit game since Aug. 24, 2021 vs. the Los Angeles Angels.

Outfielder Aaron Hicks blasted his fifth home run of the season in the sixth inning, putting the Orioles ahead 4-3. With an exit velocity of 105.1 mph and a projected distance of 426 feet, it marked his longest and hardest-hit homer of the season. The longball also marked his eighth career go-ahead home run in the sixth inning or later, and his first since Sept. 26, 2020 versus Miami while he was with the New York Yankees.

Second baseman Adam Frazier logged his 10th multi-hit game of the season and first since June 13 with a pair of singles. He entered the game yesterday with just one hit over his past 19 at-bats in the previous seven games. Frazier swiped his seventh stolen base in the fifth inning, and his first since May 6.

Right-hander Kyle Bradish (3-3, 3.88 ERA) today makes his 14th start of 2023. The club is 8-5 in the first 13. Bradish has allowed three earned runs or fewer in five straight outings, going 1-2 with a 3.25 ERA in that span and allowing a .635 OPS against.

Lefty batters are hitting .263 with a .685 OPS against him. Right-handers are batting .252/.714.

Right-hander George Kirby (6-6, 3.29 ERA) will start for the Mariners, who are 7-7 in his outings this season. Kirby has had an up-and-down ride in recent games, allowing seven, zero, five, one and three runs his past five starts. 

For the year, he has allowed two earned runs or fewer in eight of 14 starts, and he has recorded an impressive 11 quality starts.

He has a 1.072 WHIP in 87 2/3 innings with a spectacular 0.6 walk rate and 7.7 strikeout rate. He has not walked a batter over his past four starts, covering 24 2/3 innings. For the year, he has walked just one batter six times, and no batters in a game eight times. 

He is the major league leader in fewest walks per nine innings at 0.62, well ahead of the second place pitcher, Zack Greinke of Kansas City, who is at 1.22. Minnesota's Joe Ryan is third at 1.44.

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