O's game blog: The road trip begins

ST. LOUIS – After going 5-3 on the season’s longest homestand, the Orioles are in St. Louis tonight to begin a three-game series and seven-game road trip that moves to Chicago on Thursday.

The Seattle pitching staff began the weekend at Camden Yards ranked fourth in the American League in team ERA at 3.33 and fifth in rotation ERA at 3.36.

But the Orioles scored 18 runs on 28 hits off the Mariners, including six doubles, three triples and four homers, while going 2-1 in the weekend series. The team average was .277 and OPS .839, and they went 9-for-28 with runners in scoring position against Seattle.

The Orioles (29-15) have won three of the last four games, 10 of 14 and 17 of their past 25. They are now 10-3-2 in series for the year and are 6-2-1 in home series. They are now 4-2 in rubber match games.

One of the best developments in recent days for the club might be that some struggling outfielders started to hit. Center fielder Cedric Mullins went 3-for-8 with two RBIs the last two days, and at least that’s a start to turning around his season. Austin Hays has five hits his last 13 at-bats, which actually dates back to before he went on the injured list. And Colton Cowser, whose average was down to .267 in early May, is now batting .310 (9-for-29) with three doubles, four RBIs and an .861 OPS his past nine games.

And the pitching staff continues to excel. Seattle’s starting rotation gets props for obvious reasons, but the O’s starting pitchers allowed just three runs over 18 innings in the weekend series, with four walks to 22 strikeouts.

Corbin Burnes allowed one run over six innings Sunday and improved to 4-2 with a 2.56 ERA. He threw 94 pitches and tied his season high with 11 strikeouts. He got a season-high 19 whiffs on 50 swings. He got seven whiffs in eight swings against his slider, and five of seven versus his curveball.

In the St. Louis series opener, right-hander Dean Kremer (3-3, 3.72 ERA) will make his first start since May 12 and his ninth of the year. So he is pitching on seven days' rest.

In his past four starts, he has fanned 30 batters in 24 innings, pitching to a 2.63 ERA and allowing a .150 batting average against.

For the season, he has allowed two earned runs or fewer four times and posted three quality starts. The Orioles are 4-4 in his outings.

In four road starts, he is 2-1 with a 1.88 ERA and 0.667 WHIP.

The Cardinals (20-26) have won five of their past seven games after going through a 1-9 stretch. They are 8-12 at home and have a minus-49 run differential for the year while the Orioles are at plus-58.

After winning on Friday and Saturday at home against Boston, St. Louis could not sweep and lost 11-3 on Sunday. The Cardinals have homered in a season-high seven straight games, but with that loss they fall to 6-14 in day games and are 1-7 on Sundays (0-4 at home).

First baseman Paul Goldschmidt went 1-for-4 with a double and extended his hitting streak to a season-high eight games (11-36, .306). That was his first double since April 30 at Detroit.

The Cardinals starter tonight is right-hander Sonny Gray (5-2, 3.05 ERA), who was signed as a free agent in late November to a three-year deal for $75 million with a team option for 2027. He was the American League Cy Young runner-up last season.

In his first five starts of the year his ERA was 0.89. But over his past two, against Milwaukee and the Los Angeles Angels, he has allowed 11 runs and four homers over 11 innings. In 14 career starts against the Orioles, he is 6-6 with a 4.58 ERA. 

The O's Gunnar Henderson led the majors outright in home runs through games on Saturday, May 18. Henderson became the second shortstop 22 or younger to hold the outright major league lead in homers at the end of a day at least 40 games into the season.

He joins Rogers Hornsby from 1917. Hornsby played shortstop exclusively in 1917 before switching to second base later in his career.

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