O's game blog: The weekend series with Boston begins

The Orioles have 25 games left in the 2022 regular season and three left on this current homestand. After Thursday’s off-day, they host Boston for a weekend series beginning tonight at Oriole Park.

The Orioles (72-65) lost three of four games to Toronto, scoring just eight runs in the three losses in that series. They have lost four of five games overall and now are 4 1/2 games back of Toronto for the final American League wild card berth. They are five back of Seattle for the second wild card spot and six games behind Tampa Bay for the No. 1 wild card spot.

Righty Alek Manoah held the Orioles to three hits over eight innings as Toronto won 4-1 Wednesday night. The Birds went just 3-for-30 in that game and were 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position. They saw 22 of their last 23 batters retired in the game after they had taken a 1-0 lead in the first on a Ryan Mountcastle RBI double.

Mountcastle went 4-for-16 with two doubles and five RBIs in the series against Toronto. In eight games this month, he is batting .290 with a .979 OPS to go with three homers and 11 RBIs.

Catcher Adley Rutschman went 7-for-16 in the series with three doubles, a homer, four runs and four RBIs. He is batting .417 (10-for-24) during a six-game hitting streak with three doubles, two homers and six RBIs.

The Orioles are now 28-32 in AL East games. They had gone 4-2 their previous six division series before losing the series to Toronto. The O’s are 7-5 against Boston, 7-6 versus Toronto, 9-10 against Tampa Bay and 5-11 versus the Yankees. So they are 23-21 combined against the Rays, Jays and Red Sox.

Boston (67-71) was also off Thursday. They took a five-game win streak into their most recent series against Tampa Bay but got swept three straight by a combined 13-7 score. They had scored 33 runs during the five consecutive wins.

Boston is 32-37 on the road, 19-26 in the second half and 18-39 in AL East games. They are playing just .316 ball this year in division games, yet are playing .605 ball (49-32) in non-AL East games.

Boston’s Trevor Story is swinging a great bat coming into this series. Since coming off the injured list Aug. 27 when he was out with a right hand contusion, he is batting .395 (15-for-38) with an OPS of 1.044 his last 10 games with five doubles, a homer and five RBIs.

Right-hander Austin Voth (4-2, 2.71 ERA with the Orioles) will make his 14th Baltimore start and the Orioles are 9-4 in the first 13. He is coming off an outing where he lasted just 3 1/3 innings and gave up one run on Saturday against Oakland. Voth has allowed two earned runs or less 11 times in his O’s starts.

A fifth-round draft pick out of the University of Washington in 2013 by the Nationals, Voth has pitched to an ERA of 1.71 his past four O’s starts. In that span, he allowed one homer in 21 innings with a .211 batting average against and .572 OPS.

Spin rates have been important during Voth’s solid pitching for the Orioles. He ranks in the top five percent in curveball spin rate and in the top 16 percent in fastball spin rate this season.

Right-hander Brayan Bello (1-4, 5.91 ERA) gets the start for Boston. The rookie has thrown 32 big league innings, allowing 42 hits but no home runs with 16 walks and 29 strikeouts. He has a WHIP of 1.813 with a 4.5 walk rate and 8.2 strikeout rate.

Bello, 23, from the Dominican Republic, is a top 100 prospect, ranked No. 21 by Baseball America and No. 37 by MLBPipeline.com. This year between Double-A and Triple-A he has gone 10-4 with a 2.34 ERA, a 1.042 WHIP and 12.1 strikeout rate.

In a survey recently published by Baseball America of International League managers, he was voted the best pitching prospect in that league and with the best changeup. Bello pitched in the 2021 All-Star Futures Game. The O's Gunnar Henderson was voted best hitting prospect in the IL.

Bello was signed at age 17 by Boston in 2017 for just $28,000. He was ranked as Boston’s No. 16 prospect in 2020 and No. 20 in 2021. Earlier this year, he was rated as the Red Sox’s No. 5 prospect and just recently, in updated ratings, he was Boston’s No. 2.

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