O's game blog: The series finale with Atlanta

The Orioles wrap up their series with the first-place Atlanta Braves tonight at Oriole Park. They crushed the Braves 14-1 on Monday but had just four hits in last night's 5-1 loss. So the series will be decided in the rubber game matchup tonight.

The Orioles (21-27) have lost six of their last seven games. In five of their past six games they have scored one run or none. They are 0-17 this season when scoring three or fewer runs.

The Orioles are playing .438 ball and they are six games better than they were after 48 games in the 2019 season. Then they were 15-33 (.313).

Cleveland (26-22) now holds the No. 8 and final American League playoff spot. Seattle is in the No. 9 spot at four games behind Cleveland. Detroit is 4 1/2 back of the Indians and the Orioles are five games back.

The Birds are now 11-16 in home games, 10-9 versus National League opponents and 1-18 when they have fewer hits than their opponent. Tonight they play the third game of this final homestand of eight games.

Left-hander Keegan Akin (0-1, 4.61 ERA) will make his fourth start. In his first two he allowed two unearned runs and six hits over 9 2/3 innings. He was knocked out during the first inning of his most recent start Friday at New York. His defense surely let him down big-time in that game, in which he allowed three hits and four runs on 39 pitches.

Thumbnail image for Akin-Front-Orange-ST-sidebar.jpgLefty batters are hitting just .077 with a .231 OPS against Akin, and right-handed batters are hitting .256/.857. For the year, he has a 1.390 WHIP and gives up 7.2 hits per nine innings, with a walk rate of 5.3 and strikeout rate of 10.5 per nine.

According to Fangraphs.com, Akin is throwing his fastball 59 percent of the time at an average velocity of 92.4 mph. Batters have hit just .194 off that pitch. He is throwing his changeup 18 percent of the time and getting a 17 percent whiff rate on the pitch. He uses his slider 15 percent and curveball eight percent.

Lefty Cole Hamels will make his season debut for Atlanta. In December the Braves signed him to a one-year deal worth $18 million. But left shoulder inflammation kept him out of spring training. Then in June an elbow bone bruise delayed his start to the year. Now the Braves hope to get him three starts before the regular season ends to have him ready for the postseason. He threw 43 pitches in a sim game last Friday.

Hamels went 7-7 with a 3.81 ERA last year for the Chicago Cubs. In a season and a half with that club he pitched to a 3.30 ERA in 39 starts, averaging 3.3 walks and 9.0 strikeouts for every nine innings. In seven career starts against the Orioles, Hamels is 2-4 with a 5.40 ERA and 1.356 WHIP in 45 innings.

Hamels is a four-time All-Star and 2008 World Series champion and has pitched 14 major league seasons with the Phillies (2006-15), Rangers (2015-18) and Cubs (2018-19). He's 163-121 in 422 career games and has pitched to a 3.42 ERA with 2,558 strikeouts. He leads all active left-handed pitchers in starts (421) and strikeouts (2,558), ranks third in wins (163), and fifth in ERA (3.42).

The Braves (29-20) have won five of their last seven. They lead the NL East by 3 1/2 games over Miami and four over Philadelphia. They are 14-12 on the road and 10-6 against AL teams.

MLB homer leaders in September:

10 - Adam Duvall, Atlanta
7 - DJ Stewart, Orioles
6 - Ronald Acuña Jr., Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna from Atlanta, plus Jared Walsh, Los Angeles Angels

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