Orioles and Cubs lineups

CHICAGO – The Orioles are trying tonight to rise above the .500 mark for the first time since April 8, 2021.

They remain in last place in the American League East, but everyone is noticing them.

The teams above them can’t help it. The Orioles are two games behind the Blue Jays for fourth place, three behind the third-place Red Sox and 3 ½ behind the second-place Rays.

The Orioles are Rays meet in a three-game series that begins Friday night at Tropicana Field.

The Jays fired manager Charlie Montoyo earlier today.

A 10-game winning streak would be the Orioles' first since they won 13 straight in September 1999. Overlapping seasons don’t count.

The Orioles’ run differential is down to -12. They keep chipping away at it.

The 20 victories since June 11 are tied with the Yankees and Astros for most in the American League. They won their 44th game last season on Sept. 7.

The rotation’s 2.36 ERA since June 19 is the lowest in the majors during that stretch, and Spenser Watkins takes his turn tonight to close out the two-game series against the Cubs.

Watkins has made three starts since rejoining the Orioles and allowed two earned runs over 17 2/3 innings, with three walks and 12 strikeouts.

This is going to be Watkins’ first career appearance against the Cubs.

Adley Rutschman is catching again tonight. Ramón Urías stays at third base.

Left-hander Justin Steele has returned from paternity leave. He’s made 16 starts and registered a 4.13 ERA and 1.428 WHIP in 76 1/3 innings.

Steele, a fifth-round draft pick in 2014 out of George County High in Mississippi, has allowed only five home runs. He’s averaging 4.2 walks and nine strikeouts per nine innings.

Steele has surrendered two earned runs or fewer in five of his last six starts. The glitch was a biggie, with five earned and six total in 5 2/3 innings on June 23 in Pittsburgh.

Left-handed hitters are slashing .204/.316/.257 lifetime against Steele, compared to .252/.334/.418 versus right-handers. He’s never faced the Orioles.

For the Orioles
Cedric Mullins CF
Trey Mancini DH
Ryan Mountcastle 1B
Anthony Santander LF
Austin Hays RF
Adley Rutschman C
Ramón Urías 3B
Rougned Odor 2B
Jorge Mateo SS

Spenser Watkins RHP

Double-A Bowie’s J.D. Mundy had a two-run, walk-off double today against Akron. Colton Cowser hit his third home run and Shayne Fontana hit his fifth. César Prieto had a single and double.

For the Cubs
Rafael Ortega DH
Willson Contreras C
Ian Happ LF
Seiya Suzuki RF
Nico Hoerner SS
Patrick Wisdom 3B
Alfonso Rivas 1B
Nelson Velázquez CF
Christopher Morel 2B

Justin Steele LHP

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