O's game blog: The Houston series opener

Fresh off their 8-1 win Wednesday night over the Detroit Tigers, the Orioles host the Houston Astros tonight at Oriole Park. In late August, the O’s won two of three at Houston, in what may have been one of their most impressive series wins of the year.

Houston (99-51) has already clinched the American League West and comes to Baltimore as a team on a roll. They just swept three in a row from Tampa Bay, pitching two shutouts in that series. Overall they have won four in a row by a combined 25-4 score. Houston has won 10 of 11 and 18 of its last 22 games. They are 49-28 on the road, winning seven straight and 11 of 12 on the road.

But at Minute Maid Park recently, the O’s won the first two games by 2-0 and 3-1 scores, before losing the series finale by 3-1. Their series win was so impressive as Houston entered that series with a 42-18 home record on the year, with seven straight wins at home at the time and with a 27-8 record in their previous 35 at home.

The O’s got incredible pitching that weekend in Houston allowing 14 hits and four runs in three games. Their three starters – Kyle Bradish, Dean Kremer and Austin Voth – combined to pitch 21 2/3 innings allowing seven hits and two runs.

The Orioles (77-71) ended that series just 1.5 games behind the final AL wild card. Now, with 14 games left, they are four games behind Seattle for the final spot and they are 4.5 back of Tampa Bay and 6.5 behind Toronto. The Rays and Blue Jays begin a four-game series tonight in Florida.

(The Mariners were playing Oakland this afternoon).

In last night’s win, Kyle Stowers smoked a two-run homer and drove in three runs and Adley Rutschman added two RBIs. Gunnar Henderson also drove in a run as Baltimore rookies drove in six of eight runs.

The Orioles became the second team in MLB history to reach 77 wins in a season after losing 110-or-more games in the previous season, joining the 2005 Arizona Diamondbacks. They limited an opponent to three-or-fewer hits for the fifth time this season and improved to 56-1 when leading after six innings. The game was the fastest Orioles contest of the year at two hours and 27 minutes.

On the mound, right-hander Jordan Lyles threw a complete-game three-hitter with no walks and six strikeouts on just 94 pitches. It was his second career complete game - he also had one Sept. 30, 2012 for Houston at Milwaukee. This game marked the first complete game by an Oriole since John Means no-hit the Seattle Mariners on May 5, 2021 and the first complete game by an O’s righty since Alex Cobb on Aug. 18, 2018 at Cleveland. It was the first home CG by an Oriole since Dylan Bundy on Aug. 29, 2017 vs. Seattle.

Lyles became the 18th MLB pitcher (30th occurrence) to throw a complete game this season. And this game marked the fewest pitches in a complete game by an Oriole since Sydney Ponson on May 20, 2004 vs. Tampa Bay on 88 pitches.

Right-hander Kyle Bradish (3-7, 5.05 ERA) gets the start tonight for the Orioles, who are 12-8 in his 20 starts this year. Bradish has an ERA of 2.12 with a .492 OPS against over his past five starts. That includes his outing on Aug. 26 at Houston where he gave up two hits over eight scoreless innings.

Righty Justin Verlander (17-3, 1.78 ERA) gets the start for Houston. The 2011 AL Cy Young winner with Detroit and 2019 winner with Houston, is 9-0 with an ERA of 1.21 since June 24.

This season, Verlander leads all AL pitchers in wins (17), while also posting the lowest ERA (1.78), opponent batting average (.185), opponent OPS (.501), WHIP (0.83) and hits per nine innings (5.96) in the AL.

Rutschman has slashed .254/.362/.443 (89-for-350) with 31 doubles, one triple, 11 home runs, 62 runs scored, 38 RBIs, 57 walks, and an .805 OPS in his first 100 career games. Among players who have played their first 100 games as an Oriole to begin their career, he ranks first in doubles, tied for first in runs scored with Al Bumbry (1972-73), second in extra-base hits (43) behind Manny Machado (46, 2012-13), and second in walks behind Curt Blefary (58, 1965), per the Elias Sports Bureau.



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