O's game blog: The series opener with the Philadelphia Phillies

The Orioles road trip continues tonight in Philadelphia, where they play the first of three games at Citizens Bank Park. The Orioles won three of four against the Tampa Bay Rays, winning the three games by four total runs to grab a two-game lead atop the American League East.

The Orioles (61-38), who play their 100th game tonight, were 6.5 games back of Tampa Bay on July 1 and six games back on July 4. So far this month, the Orioles are 13-6 while the Rays are 4-14, and they have gained 8.5 games on the Rays in that span.

With Sunday’s 5-3 win at the Trop, the Orioles improved to 6-3 this season against Tampa Bay and to 6-0 in games decided by two or fewer runs. The Orioles are 15-10 their past 25 games versus the Rays after going 2-27 in the previous 29.

They also gained their first series win at Tropicana Field since June 23-25, 2017.

The Orioles have now won four of five, 12 of 15 and 13 of their past 18 games. They are 7-3 since the All-Star break, and a season-high 23 games over the .500 mark.

Philadelphia (53-46) ranks second in the National League East and is 11.5 games behind division-leading Atlanta. But, as this series begins, they do sit in the last NL wild card sport. 

The Phillies have lost back-to-back series, going 1-2 against Milwaukee and Cleveland. It’s their first time losing two straight since May 1-3 against the Los Angeles Dodgers (0-3) and May 5-7 versus Boston (1-2).

The Phillies won 8-5 over the Guardians in 10 innings Sunday to snap a four-game losing streak. But over a longer stretch, Philly is playing good ball. Since their record was 25-32 on June 3, Philly is 28-14.

The Phillies are 26-19 at home, 5-5 in the second half and 10-8 in July. Over their past 42 games, the Phillies rotation is 17-10 with a 3.10 ERA. In that span, their starters have gone six innings or more 28 times and they are 21-7 in those games.

Philly has a strong 20-12 interleague record. The Phillies won 12 straight games against the American League from May 7 to July 6. Philadelphia’s 12-game interleague winning streak was tied for the second-longest in major league history – 13 games is the record – and is the longest since 2017, when the Dodgers won 13 straight against the AL. 

On Friday night, Bryce Harper played first base for the first time in his MLB career. According to Elias Sports, Harper became the 25th player in the modern era to play in over 1,400 career games before making his first career infield start. The last player to do this was Nelson Cruz in 2021 (1,853rd game). Other notable players to make their debut start in the infield after their 1,400th game: Joe DiMaggio (1,551st), Willie Mays (2,385th), Dusty Baker (1,855th) and Andruw Jones (1,857th).

Right-hander Dean Kremer (10-4, 4.80 ERA) will make his 21st start of the year tonight, and the Orioles are 14-6 in the first 20. Kremer, who gave up five runs in 4 2/3 innings Wednesday against the Dodgers, has nine quality starts this year.

Lefty Cristopher Sánchez (0-3, 3.06 ERA) will make his seventh start. He has pitched at Triple-A and the majors this year, making seven big league starts. His ERA is 2.45 over his past four starts.

Gunnar Henderson is hitting .293/.352/.587 since June 1 with five doubles, three triples, 11 homers, 25 runs, 29 RBIs, 13 walks and three stolen bases in 39 games. He's among AL leaders during that time in triples (T-3rd), home runs (T-3rd), slugging (5th), total bases (8th – 88) and OPS (9th).




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