O's game blog: The homestand begins against Pittsburgh

After going 4-2 on a road trip which ended with a three-game sweep at Texas, the Orioles begin a six-game homestand tonight against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Orioles swept Texas, winning by scores of 7-2, 8-2 and 6-3 as they swept the series and their six games this year versus Texas.

The Orioles (54-51) moved three games over the .500 mark for the first time since April 4, 2021 when they began that season 3-0 at Boston’s Fenway Park. They scored 21 runs in the sweep against the Rangers and allowed just eight.

It was the Orioles first season sweep of six games or more since they went 6-0 versus the Los Angeles Angels in the 2010 season. They scored 40 runs in the six games versus Rangers pitching. In this recent series they had 30 hits including 10 doubles and five homers off Texas pitchers.

Now the O’s host Pittsburgh and Baltimore is 7-5 this year versus NL Central teams and coupled with their 1-1 mark against the Washington Nationals, they are 8-6 against NL teams this year.

The Orioles, who were 46-46 at the All-Star break, are 8-5 in the second half. They have won seven of their past 10, 19 of 26, 24 of 36 and 30 of 46 games.

The Orioles are 29-20 at home this season and have gone 12-3 over their past 15 games at Oriole Park.

On the mound tonight for the Orioles is right-hander Dean Kremer (3-3, 3.86 ERA). The Orioles are 6-4 in his 10 starts but have lost the past two. Kremer pitched to an ERA of 1.29, allowing one earned run or less four times in his first five starts. But over his past five, he is 1-2 with a 6.94 ERA and has yielded three earned runs or more four times. Kremer’s ERA is 8.56 over his past three starts. In his most recent game on Saturday at Cincinnati, he gave up 10 hits and six runs over 4 1/3 innings and he allowed two homers at Great American Ball Park.

For the season, he has thrown 51 1/3 innings allowing 58 hits and six homers with 14 walks and 41 strikeouts. He has a WHIP of 1.403, allowing 10.2 hits per nine innings with a 2.5 walk rate and 7.2 strikeout rate.

Right-hander Mitch Keller (3-7, 4.37 ERA) will be making his 21st appearance and 19th start for Pittsburgh. The 26-year-old Keller has pitched 101 innings for the Pirates this year with 106 hits and 10 homers allowed to go with 37 walks, 87 strikeouts and a 1.416 WHIP. The Pirates are 5-13 in his 18 starts.

Keller has pitched well lately allowing one run and five hits over six innings Saturday versus Philadelphia, throwing 86 pitches. His ERA is 1.80 his past four games, allowing five earned runs over 25 innings with five walks and 21 strikeouts, allowing a .601 OPS.

Keller, who has never faced the Orioles, has given up three earned runs or less nine times his past 11 starts. He has an ERA of 3.62 over his last six road starts.

Keller’s brother Jon was the Orioles’ 22nd round draft pick in 2013 and pitched in their minor leagues. He reached as high as Double-A Bowie.

Pittsburgh (43-62) was playing terrible baseball before hosting Milwaukee this week. But the Pirates swept a three-game series from the first-place Brewers by scores of 5-3, 8-7 and 5-4 in 10 innings yesterday when they scored two runs in the last of the 10th. That completed a 3-4 homestand where they went 0-4 versus the Phillies and 3-0 against the Brewers.

Pittsburgh, which is 9-18-7 in series play this season, is 19-33 in road games and now 3-8 in extra innings. The Bucs are 2-7 in games versus American League teams.

Adley Rutschman has 22 doubles in his first 58 career games, becoming the ninth MLB player since 1901 to do so and first since Toronto's Bo Bichette in 2019-20. His 28 walks in his first 58 games are the fourth-most in O's history to begin a career behind Leo Gomez (29, 1990-91), Curt Blefary (35, 1965), and Glenn Gulliver (38, 1982-83). He has reached base safely multiple times in 12 of his last 13 games, including drawing a career-high three walks on Wednesday in Texas.

Anthony Santander extended his season-long hitting streak to 14 games with an RBI double in the ninth inning on Wednesday. The 14-gamer is the third-longest active streak in MLB. He is slashing .375/.436/.679 (21-for-56) with five doubles, four home runs, nine runs scored, 13 RBIs, and five multi-hit efforts during his stretch, which is the longest by an Oriole this season.

Santander has also driven in a run in seven straight games, the longest active streak in MLB and the longest such stretch by an O's player since Ryan Mountcastle tallied an RBI in seven straight games from July 30 to Aug. 6, 2021. Santander leads the Orioles in home runs (19), RBIs (59), slugging percentage (.457), and wRC+ (126 min. 250 PA).

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