O's game blog: The Toronto series begins

TORONTO – The Orioles swept a brief two-game series this week in Washington by 4-3 and 6-2 scores and their two-city road trip continues tonight with the opener of a big three-game weekend series in Toronto.

The Orioles (75-67) and the Blue Jays (81-63) are separated by five games in the standings and will also play Saturday at 3:07 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 1:37 p.m. The Birds needed those wins at Nats Park, following a 4-6 homestand where they went 2-6 in the final eight games.

The Orioles are on a pace to win 86 games, which would be a 34-win improvement over last year. That would be an Orioles record, surpassing the 33-win gain from 1988 (54-107) to 1989 (87-75).

The Orioles are now 34-37 in road games for the season. But they have now won four road games in a row and also have taken eight of 11 and 12 of their past 18 away from Oriole Park. Since beginning the year going 3-10 in away games, they are 31-27 on the road.

The Orioles went 1-3 in their recent home series against Toronto and they are 7-6 this season versus the Blue Jays, splitting a four-game series, winning the first two in a rain-shortened series, taking two of three and then losing three of four most recently. So, they are 2-1-1 in four series against Toronto after going 0-5-1 in series and 5-14 in the 19 games in 2021 against the Blue Jays.

The Orioles are 4-3 this year at Rogers Centre, splitting four games in mid June and taking two of three Aug. 15-17. Last season they went 2-8 at Rogers Centre and in 2018 they were 0-9 north of the border.

Right-hander Jordan Lyles (10-10, 4.62 ERA) will start the series-opener, making his 29th start. After missing a start in that recent Toronto series with a stomach virus, Lyles pitched on nine days’ rest on Saturday at home versus Boston and rust showed while his velocity was down. He allowed a first-inning grand slam to Rafael Devers in a 37-pitch inning. His fastball averaged 89.1 mph in that opening inning, which is 2.7 mph off its usual average. Lyles gave up eight runs and seven hits in 3 2/3 innings.

It was a huge reversal from how well he had been pitching. His ERA was 2.72 his previous seven starts until that game with Boston. The Orioles are 14-14 in Lyles’ outings this year.

In two starts against Toronto in 2022, he is 2-0 with a 4.91 ERA, allowing six earned runs in 11 innings with a WHIP of 1.546.

Toronto lost 11-0 to Tampa Bay at home on Thursday afternoon, but the Blue Jays did take three of five games in that series. Toronto was shut out for the eighth time. The Blue Jays, despite that result, have been playing well, going 11-4 in September and 13-5 their last 18 games. They are 20-9 the last 29 and 36-21 over their past 57 games.

Toronto is 33-27 in AL East games, winning nine of its last 12 and 13 of 17 within the division.

Bo Bichette singled in his first at-bat and doubled in the sixth for his 49th multi-hit game. He has reached base in all 15 games in September, batting .484 (31-for-64) with nine doubles, a triple, seven homers and 22 RBIs. He has a .984 slugging percentage and 1.499 OPS in that span.

In the four-game series at Baltimore, Bichette had a three-homer game and went 10-for-19 with a double, four homers, eight runs and nine RBIs.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. went 1-for-4 against Tampa Bay with a single, extending his hitting streak to nine games, and went 12- for-40 (.300) with four doubles, a homer, and three RBIs over that span. 

The O's Gunnar Henderson has reached base safely in 13 of his first 14 career games and has recorded a hit in 11 of 13 starts to begin his career while batting .320/.370/.520 (16-for-50) with five doubles, one triple, one homer, five runs, nine RBIs, four walks, and one stolen base since Aug. 31. Henderson is one of nine players in Orioles history with at least 16 hits and one of five players in O's history with at least seven extra-base hits in his first 14 career games.

The most EBHs in an Oriole players first 14 games with team:

9 - Trey Mancini, 2016-17

8 - Manny Machado, 2012 and Curt Blefary, 1965

7 - Henderson, 2022 and Cedric Mullins 2018.


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