O's game blog: The series opener at Texas

It got active in Birdland this afternoon with the news of Trey Mancini’s trade to the Houston Astros. But as nightfall arrives, there is a game to play and the Orioles are at Texas tonight to begin a three-game series as their road trip continues.

The Orioles (51-51) lost the last two games at Cincinnati after winning there 6-2 on Friday night. But on Saturday and Sunday their offense produced just four runs on 12 hits and just one extra-base hit. That was Anthony Santander’s homer in the eighth inning yesterday that briefly produced a 2-2 tie with the Reds. But when Brandon Drury homered in the last of the eighth, the Reds took a 3-2 lead, and three outs later had a win by that margin.

The Orioles fell to 22-31 on the road. They ended July going 16-9 with a plus-19 run differential. They fell to 7-8 in rubber-match games.

A win by the Orioles tonight and they would match the win total of last year’s club that went 52-110.

Even with back-to-back losses, the Orioles have won four of seven and 16 of their past 23 games. They have won 21 of 33 and 27 of 43.

On the mound tonight, right-hander Spenser Watkins (3-1, 4.03 ERA) makes his 14th start. On Tuesday versus Tampa Bay he allowed 10 hits and three runs over 5 1/3 innings. The Orioles are 8-5 in his games this year.

Over his past five starts, Watkins is 3-0 with an ERA of 1.93, allowing six earned runs over 28 innings with a .243 average against and .629 OPS. 

Right-hander Jon Gray (7-5, 3.62 ERA) gets the start for Texas. The No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 draft by Colorado, Gray was signed by the Rangers in December via free agency to a four-year deal worth $56 million.

He gave up four runs in 6 1/3 his last start, but had two straight scoreless starts before that. So his ERA is 1.86 his last three starts, with a .149 average against and .443 OPS.

Gray has allowed two earned runs or fewer in nine of his 18 starts. The Rangers are 10-8 in those 18 games, but are 7-2 over his past nine outings.

Anthony Santander owns a season-long 11-game hitting streak, the third-longest active streak in the American League and fourth-longest in the majors. He is slashing .395/.458/.744 (17-for-43) with three doubles, four home runs, eight runs scored, and 10 RBIs during his streak, which is tied for the second-longest by an O's batter this season, behind a 13-game streak by Austin Hays from May 20 to June 2.

Catcher Adley Rutschman reached base safely multiple times in nine consecutive games from July 17-30, the longest streak by a rookie in Orioles history, surpassing the record of eight games set by Boog Powell in 1962. It was the longest such streak by a rookie since St. Louis' Tommy Edman reached base safely multiple times in 10 straight games in 2019.

According to The Elias Sports Bureau, it was tied for the longest streak by a rookie catcher since 1958, the first season there was an official rookie rule in the big leagues. Other rookie catchers to reach base safely multiple times in nine straight games include Minnesota's Butch Wynegar in 1976 and the New York Yankees' Thurmon Munson in 1970. 

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