O's game blog: The series opener with the Minnesota Twins

With a 40-42 record, the Minnesota Twins would be in last place in the American League East and 15 games out of first place. But as they open a series tonight with the Orioles at Camden Yards, they are tied for first place.

Going into today, the Twins and Cleveland (39-41) were both two games under the .500 mark - a spot the Orioles have not been in for one day this season - yet they were tied for first playing .488 ball atop the American League Central.

The Central cannot brag of playing the season-long good baseball as the teams in the AL East have done, but some club is going to win that division and likely host a wild-card series this year. 

Minnesota comes to Baltimore off losing three in a row to Atlanta by scores of 4-1, 6-2 and 3-0. The Twins have lost nine of their last 14 games.

Minnesota has gone 2-4 through six games on their nine-game, 10-day roadtrip which began as they won two of three at Detroit. After this series, the Twins will travel back home to finish the pre All Star game portion of their schedule with a six-game, seven-day homestand, which consists of three games against the Royals and three games next weekend against the Orioles at Target Field.

The Twins have gone 23-19 at home and 17-23 on the road. They are looking to avoid falling to a low-water mark of three games under .500 tonight, which would be their lowest since finishing the 2022 season 78-84. Minnesota has gone 17-24 in their last 41 after starting the season 23-18 in their first 41 games.

The Orioles (48-31) begin this series, the third of a three-series, nine-game homestand, 5.5 games back of Tampa Bay for the AL East lead. 

The homestand began as the Orioles won two of three from Seattle before losing two of three versus Cincinnati. Baltimore is 25-16 at home. The Orioles are 18-8 in series-opening games.

The Birds are 16-8-2 in 26 series for the year and 8-4-1 in nine home series at Oriole Park.

Baltimore is scheduled to hit the midpoint of the season with game No. 81 tomorrow. Last year, the O's were 37-44 and in last place in the AL East, 21.5 games behind the Yankees, and 6.5 games behind the Rays for the final Wild Card spot at the halfway mark.

The O's have batted .253/.323/.423 this season compared to .229/.297/.383 through 81 games last year; the team has scored 59 more runs (388 to 329), has 80 more total bases (1128 to 1048), and 11 more home runs (95 to 84) this season compared to the midpoint last year.

Anthony Santander is slashing .289/.349/.543 with 12 doubles, one triple, 12 homers, 32 runs scored, 36 RBIs, 16 walks and one stolen base in 50 games since the start of May. During that time, he ranks among AL leaders in slugging percentage (5th), total bases (T-5th, 107), extra-base hits (T-5th, 25), home runs (T-5th), RBIs (T-5th), and OPS (7th, .892). His 14 home runs lead the O's and rank fourth among MLB switch hitters.

Right-hander Dean Kremer (8-3, 4.50 ERA) gets the start for the Orioles, his 17th. The team is 11-5 in his games. On the season, over 88 innings, he has allowed 98 hits with 22 walks, 77 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.364.

Over his past 10 starts, Kremer has allowed three earned runs or less nine times, going 6-2 with a 3.39 ERA. In eight home starts, he is 4-1 with a 4.50 ERA. In eight road starts, he is 4-2 with a 4.50 ERA.

The Twins acquired right-hander Pablo López (3-5, 4.41 ERA) from Miami in January in a deal that sent Luis Arraez, who is batting .392, to the Marlins. Minnesota is 8-8 over his 16 starts and his ERA is 4.01 over his past four.

From 2020 through 2022 he made 63 starts for Miami, pitching to an ERA of 3.52 with a 1.156 WHIP. 

Interesting note for this series: The Orioles have a plus-27 run differential. The Twins, with a much worse record, are at plus-24.

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