The Orioles end the 2023 regular season today against the same team they started with back on March 30 - the Boston Red Sox. They won that game 10-9, their first win on their way to 101 and an AL East championship.
This year this will not be the last game. The Orioles, the No. 1 seed with home-field advantage throughout the American League playoffs, will host Game 1 of the AL Division Series at Oriole Park on Saturday, Oct. 7.
At 101-60, Baltimore will head into the final game with a three-game lead over Tampa Bay (98-63). Even though those clubs have the two best records in the league, they could meet in the ALDS next week.
The Rays will be the fourth seed for the AL playoffs and the Orioles, as the top seed, will play the winner of the No. 4 versus No. 5 wild-card round. The Blue Jays could very well be that No. 5 team, but going into the final day today, it could still also be the Astros or Rangers.
The Orioles' 5-2 win last night ensured they will finish this season with a winning record over every other AL East team for the first time since 2014.
Baltimore pitching is putting together some strong outings as the regular season winds down. In winning six of the past seven games, the Orioles have allowed just eight runs and 36 hits with eight walks to 49 strikeouts.
The O's rotation in that span has a 1.01 ERA, allowing five runs over 44 2/3 innings. In six of those seven games, the starting pitcher has allowed one run or less. In the seven games, the Baltimore bullpen has allowed three runs over 18 1/3 innings.
Right-hander Kyle Bradish (12-7, 2.86 ERA) will make his 30th start and it is expected to be a short one. Just get him some innings to tune up for a potential start in Game 1 of the ALDS next Saturday.
Bradish begins today third in the AL ERA race behind New York's Gerrit Cole at 2.63 and Minnesota's Sonny Gray at 2.79.
Entering play today, Bradish also ranks this way among qualified AL pitchers: In opponent batting average (2nd, .217), slugging percentage (3rd, .333), OPS (3rd, .609), WHIP (3rd, 1.05), and on-base percentage (5th, .276).
He has thrown back-to-back scoreless starts against the Astros and Nats, a combined 14 innings allowing five hits. He's given up two earned runs or less in eight of his past nine games, going 5-1 with a 1.94 ERA in those games. He has also done that in 15 of his past 18 games, going 10-5 with a 2.22 ERA in that span, allowing an opponent average of .189 and OPS of .547.
He has 18 quality starts to rank in a tie for seventh in the AL. Cole is the leader with 24 for the season.
Right-hander Tanner Houck (5-10, 5.31 ERA) gets the start for Boston. In 20 games this year, Boston is 8-12 in his outings. He gave up seven runs in three innings his last time out versus Tampa Bay. And, in five games in September, he went 2-2 with a 6.56 ERA and .915 OPS against.
The O's are 49-31 (.613) at Oriole Park this year, the third-best home record in the AL behind Tampa Bay at 53-28 (.654) and Texas at 50-31 (.617). Baltimore's .613 winning percentage at Oriole Park would be the third-best in ballpark history, behind a .617 mark (50-31) by the 2014 and 2016 teams; the O's could tie the 2014 and 2016 squads for the most wins and best-winning percentage at Oriole Park with a win today.
And the Orioles have secured a winning record in each full calendar month for the first time since 1983, per the Elias Sports Bureau. They would be 1-0 in both March and October with a victory today, giving them eight winning months this year.