Three more Orioles questions as they prepare for their series opener in Boston

John Means

The Orioles are in Boston for the final series of their penultimate road trip in 2023. Three games at Fenway Park, seven at Camden Yards – including four against the Rays that could influence the division race – followed by visits to Houston and Cleveland.

The latest quirk to the schedule has the Orioles engaged in a trio of four-game series this month, versus the Rays, Guardians and Red Sox. They’ve won six consecutive series while building an 88-51 record, including 34-16 in the second half, that’s the second best in baseball.

The organization’s hesitancy to look too far ahead is softening. Adjustments are being made to the rotation as if prepping it for the postseason. Back down to five starters, with the possibility of weaving in a sixth here and there. A clearer read on innings totals and how to proceed.

Making the playoffs is a formality. The goal now is winning the American League East, with a first-round bye and home field advantage.

They haven’t won 100 games since 1980 and are on pace to blow past it. Also blowing the minds of the oddsmakers who put them below .500.

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Rookie Jordan Westburg with a big pinch hit and Jorge Lopez on rejoining the O's (plus Holliday promoted)

Jordan Westburg

PHOENIX – He has now played 50 games in the big leagues, and it feels like that went by pretty fast for O’s rookie Jordan Westburg. 

As a pinch-hitter on Sunday at Arizona, he produced an RBI double in the sixth inning which turned a 5-4 Baltimore lead into a 6-4 edge that would become 8-4 before the inning was out.

It was a nice contribution from Westburg, who is batting .281 with an OPS of .829 with runners in scoring position.

It was another game where the Orioles showed they are resilient. After Arizona tied the game in the fifth and the Orioles didn’t get what they felt was a sure running out of the baseline call by the D-backs Geraldo Perdomo, they just came back to bat and put up four runs to take charge of the game for a second time.

“I think we’ve been doing it (bouncing back well) all season,” said Westburg. “You brush off the losses and you come back with a brand-new mindset. It’s a new day and everyone in the clubhouse trusts the offense. I think the hitters know that we are good enough to put up 10 runs on a given night.”

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The Jorge López approach: Grip it, let it rip and keep it simple

jorge lópez throws white

As mostly a starting pitcher the last two years for the Orioles, right-hander Jorge López had an ERA of 6.34 in 2020 and 6.07 during the 2021 season. This year, among all pitchers that have thrown 30 innings or more, he is second in the majors in ERA.

Clay Holmes of the New York Yankees is first at an amazing 0.55 and Lopez comes next at 0.79. He looks good both through the eye test and on the stat and in advanced metrics. He just looks good by almost any standard or measurement.

It is tough enough for any pitcher to get the last three outs of the game, but López is often being asked to get the last four or even five outs.

Heavy lifting indeed.

He’s allowed just 16 hits and no homers in 34 1/3 innings with 13 walks and 34 strikeouts. López has a WHIP of 0.845 that ranks fifth and his opponent batting average of .137 is second among pitchers that have thrown more than 30 innings.

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