O's game blog: The series and road trip opener at Cincinnati

CINCINNATI – Winners of eight of their last 12 games and four of their past five series, the Orioles begin a weekend series tonight at Cincinnati, playing the next three days at Great American Ball Park as they begin their third road trip of the 2024 season.

The Orioles have won three of their four road series – losing only at Pittsburgh – and are 8-4 in road games and 3-1 in series-opening games on the road.

They begin play tonight at 20-11 (.645) and are tied for the best record in the American League with Cleveland. In the major leagues, only Atlanta (20-9, .690) has a better record. The Orioles lead the AL East by one game over New York, by 2 1/2 over Boston, 5 1/2 over Toronto and 6 1/2 games over Tampa Bay.

Right-hander Kyle Bradish allowed one run over 4 2/3 innings Thursday afternoon as the Orioles won the series finale over the Yankees 7-2 to take three of four in that series and gain the division lead. The Orioles got solo homers from Ryan Mountcastle, Jorge Mateo and Ryan McKenna.

The Orioles have a big lead for most homers in the majors with 48, while New York is second with 41 and Philadelphia third at 40.

The Orioles lead the majors in homers per game at 1.55, with Milwaukee next at 1.27 and Philadelphia third at 1.25.

The Orioles are 13-2 when they hit two or more home runs in a game and 8-2 when they hit three or more, as they did on Thursday.

Baltimore batters have hit three homers three times the last six games, hitting 10 total in that stretch. They lead the majors with 10 games of three home runs or more.

While the Orioles offense scored just 13 runs on 24 hits in the Yankees series, the O’s pitchers limited New York to six runs over the four games on 22 hits. Baltimore starters allowed five runs over 23 1/3 innings and the bullpen allowed one run in 12 2/3 with one walk and 12 strikeouts.

Cincinnati is third in the National League Central at 16-15, 3 1/2 games behind division-leading Milwaukee. The Reds are 9-7 at home and have a plus-18 run differential for the year. The Orioles' plus-41 ranks second best in the AL.

Cincinnati was off Thursday after losing two of three at San Diego and four of six on a road trip that started in Texas. They open a six-game homestand tonight versus the Orioles and Arizona.

The Reds had a 9-6 start, but are 7-9 since then. They have lost five of their past seven games.

The Orioles starter in the series opener is lefty Cole Irvin (2-1, 3.49 ERA) who has posted back-to-back scoreless starts against Kansas City and Oakland. In those games, he pitched a total of 13 2/3 innings, allowing eight hits with two walks and seven strikeouts.

He last gave up a run on April 15 versus Minnesota. Over his past three games he is 2-0 with an ERA of 0.98, allowing two runs over 18 1/3 innings, and the Orioles are 3-0 in those games. They are 4-1 in his 2024 starts.

Irvin has allowed just one run in 5 1/3 innings in three career games against Cincinnati for an ERA of 1.69.

Right-hander Hunter Greene (1-2, 3.63 ERA), one of the fastest pitchers in the sport, gets the start for the home team. In 34 2/3 innings he has allowed 26 hits but just two home runs while issuing 12 walks to 42 strikeouts. He has a 1.096 WHIP, a 3.1 walk rate and 10.9 strikeout rate.

Greene’s average fastball of 98.0 mph ranks 13th fastest in the bigs in average velocity, a list led mostly by relievers and topped by Oakland’s Mason Miller with an average of 100.7 mph. Grayson Rodriguez is the highest-ranked Oriole with an average velocity of 96.3 mph to rank tied for 35th in baseball.

Greene has thrown seven innings each in his last two starts, allowing four runs in that span to Philly. But in his most recent game, last Saturday, he threw seven scoreless innings at Texas and held the Rangers to one hit on 98 pitches.

Greene, 24, was the No. 2 overall pick by the Reds in the 2017 MLB Draft out of a high school in Sherman Oaks, Calif.

This season lefty batters hit just .191 off him with a .625 OPS. Right-handers are batting .241/.628. The Reds are just 1-5 in his starts for the year.

Cincinnati ranks 28th in the majors with a team batting average of .218 and is 18th in OPS at .674. But the Reds lead the majors with 55 stolen bases and rank eighth with 4.84 runs per game. The O's are third in MLB scoring 5.29 runs per game. 

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