O's game blog: The road trip begins at Kansas City

The Orioles begin a two-city road trip to Kansas City and Anaheim, Calif., tonight with three games versus the Royals and then three with the Angels starting Monday night.

The Orioles (12-6) are 4-2 on the road. They begin today ½-game behind the New York Yankees for the American League East lead. New York (13-6) will host Tampa Bay (11-9) this weekend.

Wednesday’s 4-2 win over Minnesota, via a Cedric Mullins’ two-run, walk-off homer, gave the Orioles a series sweep. And a four-game win streak in which they have outscored the opposition 28-13. The Orioles are 7-2 their past nine games.

In the season’s second series, the Orioles took two of three from the Royals at Oriole Park. They took the first and third games of that series with three-run comebacks for walk-off wins. The first on Jordan Westburg’s two-run homer and the next on James McCann’s two-run single.

The Orioles scored 22 runs in the series with Minnesota and have scored 57 runs the last nine games.

In those nine games, in which they averaged 6.3 runs per game, the Orioles had 95 hits, including 21 homers, and hit .291 as a team with an .868 OPS.

They have now hit at least three homers in five straight games for the first time since 1996. The O’s team record and the major league record since 1900 for having at least three homers in a game is six straight, which the O’s did from May 8-13, 1987. They can match that tonight. 

The Orioles hit nine homers in the Twins series, have 15 the last five games, 20 in seven games and a majors-leading 30 for the year. The Orioles have hit two or more homers 10 times this season and they are 9-1 in those games.

The Orioles are averaging a home run every 20.93 at-bats in 2024, which ranks No. 1 in the big leagues this season. The Orioles’ home run total and their ratio of homers per at-bat are both their highest through 18 games of a season in club history. Their team record for homers through 19 games is 31 in 1966. 

The Orioles, through the small sample of 18 games, are on a pace to hit 270 homers this season. The most they ever hit in a year previously was 257 in 1996.

They have seen six players hit 27 of their 30 homers as Gunnar Henderson has six and Mullins five. Colton Cowser, Ryan O’Hearn, Anthony Santander and Westburg have hit four each.

Kansas City began the season losing two of three versus both Minnesota and the Orioles before running off a seven-game win streak. In their past two series, they lost two of three to the Mets and won two of three from the Chicago White Sox.

The Royals (12-7) begin play tonight one game behind Cleveland (13-6) for the American League Central lead. Their pitchers have been really good, posting a team ERA of 2.79 to rank second in the AL. Their starters ERA is 2.39, which is also second in the AL, and their ‘pen ERA of 3.60 ranks eighth.

Some of those pitching stats were built as K.C. has gone 6-1 versus the White Sox. They allowed just nine runs in those games with a 1.31 team ERA.

These teams are among the major league leaders in run differential thus far:

+40 – Kansas City

+37 – Cleveland

+29 – Atlanta

+27 – Orioles

Mullins begins this series riding a nine-game hitting streak, going 11-for-30 (.367) with a double, three homers, nine runs and eight RBIs.

Henderson has homered in each of his last three games and his hit four his past seven games. He is 10-for-21 during a five-game hitting streak. Henderson and Houston's Jose Altuve are the only players in baseball right now leading their teams in hits, homers and stolen bases. 

O’s OPS plus numbers right now:

258 – Colton Cowser
205 – Ryan O’Hearn
187 – Jordan Westburg
177 – Gunnar Henderson
157 – Ryan Mountcastle
151 – Cedric Mullins

On the mound, right-hander Dean Kremer (0-1, 4.96 ERA) makes his fourth start tonight after giving up eight runs (six earned) over four innings in his last one against Milwaukee.

In 13 career April starts, Kremer is 2-4 with a 6.64 ERA and .900 OPS against. He allowed three runs in 5 1/3 innings April 1 against K.C.

Righty Alec Marsh (2-0, 4.32 ERA) gets the start for the home team. The Royals are 3-0 in his games this season, which includes an outstanding start in Baltimore. On April 2 he gave up one run and two hits over seven innings on just 76 pitches.

The Orioles have won or tied seven straight series against Kansas City dating to July 2021. 

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