Pregame notes on Givens' DFA, Mountcastle still raking and more

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SEATTLE – The Orioles today reinstated reliever Mychal Givens from the 60-day injured list with right shoulder inflammation and then designated him for assignment.

Signed as a free agent on Dec. 21, Givens pitched in just four games this year for Orioles. He gave up five earned runs over four innings for an ERA of 11.25. He has not pitched for the Orioles since May 31.

“Well, it’s this time of year," manager Brandon Hyde said of Givens' designation. "We’re trying to win every game we can and we are coming down the stretch and we need guys that are durable, and able to win some games down the stretch. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out for Mike, but we have some other guys here that have thrown the ball extremely well and just want to finish the season strong."

Givens had a 6.60 ERA in 15 minor league games, and just last night allowed three runs while getting just one out for Triple-A Norfolk.

More on the six-man rotation: The Orioles have embarked, at least for now, on a six-man rotation, with Cole Irvin entering the mix last night. Kyle Gibson and Irvin pitched in this series, and Kyle Bradish goes today.

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O's win dramatic pitcher's duel 1-0 in 10 at Seattle

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SEATTLE – Locked in a remarkable pitcher's duel for nine innings and held to just three hits in nine innings by Seattle starter George Kirby, the Orioles still pulled out a win tonight to end the Mariners' eight-game win streak.

Ryan Mountcastle's single to center broke the 0-0 tie in the top of the 10th and O's closer Félix Bautista pitched two innings and struck out the side in the last of the 10th to get the win.

The Orioles (72-45) improved to 7-5 in extra innings and remained two games ahead of Tampa Bay atop the American League East.

Placed runner Cedric Mullins stole third base in the 10th and scored on Mountcastle's single to center that produced the lead along with an exit velocity of 109.5 mph. 

Bautista got the game to extras with a scoreless last of the ninth.

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O's game blog: Birds look to even the series against Seattle

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SEATTLE – After Friday’s 9-2 loss in the series and road trip opener, the Orioles have lost three of four games, allowing 28 runs. Seattle hit three homers in opening a 7-1 lead after four innings and posted an eighth straight win.

The O’s (71-45) will try to even this series and slow the hot Mariners in Game 2 of this three-game set tonight at T-Mobile Park.

It’s a big night for the Mariners, who are inducting right-hander Félix Hernández into their team Hall of Fame. He is one of five pitchers with 2,500+ strikeouts and 2,500+ innings with the same team. He joins Hall of Famers Walter Johnson (Washington), Bob Gibson (St. Louis), Bob Feller (Cleveland) and likely future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw (Los Angeles Dodgers).

Friday’s O’s starter Kyle Gibson allowed a career-high nine runs in 5 1/3 innings in the series opener. He had allowed five or six runs in just four of his 2023 starts before the Mariners hit him hard last night. In two starts against Seattle this year, he has allowed 14 runs in 8 1/3 innings.

The Orioles are now 25-13 in series-opening games and 14-5 in road series openers.

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Pregame notes from Seattle on the six-man rotation and more

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SEATTLE – The Orioles will be on hand tonight for a big night in Seattle as former Mariners pitcher Félix Hernández goes into the team’s Hall of Fame. He was a six-time All-Star and the 2010 American League Cy Young Award winner. He pitched a perfect game for Seattle against Tampa Bay on Aug. 15, 2012.

He tried to make it back to the bigs with the Orioles in the spring of 2021, but arm issues kept that from happening. He eventually opted out of his O's minor league deal and was officially released by the club in late March.

“We came here in 2011 and they were down the stretch, and he pitched a game that was sold out and we saw the King’s Court (fans section in the stands) when he was in his prime,” O’s manager Brandon Hyde recalled today. “He punched out, like, 15 and he was great in his prime. This place was absolutely going bananas. We saw at that time what he meant to the city and how big a deal he was.

“Being able to meet him (in spring of 2021) and spend some time with him, really enjoyed that. I’m excited to watch the (pregame) ceremony tonight.”

The Orioles have transitioned into a six-man rotation, at least temporarily, as left-hander Cole Irvin (1-3, 5.44 ERA) re-enters the rotation tonight. Hyde said that Irvin would likely be expected to go just four or five innings after his last five appearances were two innings or less.

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Lineups for Game 2 in Seattle

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SEATTLE – After being held to one run on two hits over six innings by right-hander Luis Castillo last night, the O’s face another tough righty tonight. George Kirby (10-8, 3.32 ERA) will make his 23rd start for Seattle.

The Mariners hit three homers off Kyle Gibson in last night’s 9-2 win. Seattle (63-52) is now just half a game out of the final wild card spot in the American League.

Adley Rutschman, batting .314 in 13 games atop the batting order, is batting leadoff again tonight. Cedric Mullins, who hit fifth last night, bats second tonight. Jorge Mateo is starting at shortstop and Gunnar Henderson is not starting. 

Kirby ranks ninth in the American League in ERA and first in walks per nine innings (0.9) and first in strikeout-to-walk ratio at 8.86. On June 25 he gave up three runs (two earned) in 6 1/3 versus the Orioles.

Seattle has won eight in a row and 10 of 11 games and is 16-4 in the last 20. The M’s pitching has given up just seven runs the last five games, and 20 in the past eight.

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O's game blog: Trying to avoid a sweep in the Houston series finale

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The Orioles have not been swept in a series this year and will need a win this afternoon at Oriole Park to avoid that fate against the Houston Astros.

Houston rallied in the ninth to beat the Orioles 7-6 Tuesday night. Last night they scored three early runs and five late for an 8-2 win. 

In 18 innings this series, the Orioles staff has allowed 21 hits and 15 runs with nine walks and 20 strikeouts.

Coming into this series the O's team ERA was 2.15 during a 7-1 run. And it was 3.23 as they had won 21 of the previous 28 games.

But Houston has put up seven runs and eight runs in winning the first two games, and the Astros scored 10 runs in seven innings of work by the Baltimore bullpen.

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After slow start, Dylan Beavers' bat heated up as he advanced to Bowie

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With the promotion Sunday of infielder Max Wagner from High-A Aberdeen to Double-A Bowie, the Orioles now have their first four picks from the 2022 MLB Draft all together at the Double-A level with Jackson Holliday, Dylan Beavers, Wagner and Jud Fabian. 

Holliday was the No. 1 overall pick in that draft with Beavers at No. 33, Wagner No. 42 and Fabian No. 67. The last three are all college draft picks but Holliday, who is baseball's No. 1 prospect, is the 19-year-old phenom having a sensational season. 

Beavers has put up some very solid numbers in his own right and just got to Bowie last week, going 8-for-20 in his first five Double-A games. His bat is hot now, but it wasn’t always that way in 2023. He began the year with Aberdeen and after 45 games was batting just .214 with a .664 OPS.  But then in his next 40 games with the IronBirds he had this line - .343/.443/.580/1.023 with 29 walks and 21 extra-base hits.  

Now ranked as the No. 10 O’s prospect by MLBPipeline.com and No. 22 by Baseball America, his bat was smoking. He is a player that gets some 60 grades from scouts for his power, running and arm.  

Beavers told me over the weekend in Bowie that when his bat was slow to get going this year, he tried not to overly stress about it and instead draw on experience from college ball at the University of California. There he began his career as a two-way player and later as a power-hitting outfielder was good enough to be the No. 33 overall selection. 

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O's game blog: Looking for another series victory as O's host the Mets

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The Orioles returned home and kept winning last night. And in the last week or so some of their wins have been coming by bigger margins. Friday night James McCann tied his career high with five RBIs and Jordan Westburg hit a three-run homer in a 10-3 romp over the New York Mets.

McCann had a two-run single, two-run double, an RBI single and a walk. His five-RBI game tied his career high from Aug. 12, 2017 for Detroit.

Westburg’s second big league homer was a three-run blast to center, hit 424 feet on a 96 mph fastball in the last of the seventh. Westburg went 2-for-3 with two walks and is hitting .276 with a .785 OPS.

The Baltimore offense has produced 30 runs the last four games and 43 in the past six games. In their last 26 games, the Orioles have scored five runs or more 14 times, and they are 14-0 in those games.

Since playing on "Sunday Night Baseball," the Orioles' wins have come by 9-3, 4-2, 13-3, 6-1 and 10-3 margins. They are 5-1 the last six games with a plus-27 run differential.

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Yennier Cano tweaks pitch mix in an effort to get back on track (plus other notes)

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It’s a long season and a pitcher that was seemingly unhittable for a long stretch of 2023 was now becoming much more hittable. O’s righty reliever Yennier Cano had a prolific start to his season. But in recent outings he’s made some changes to try to get himself completely back on track.

This is a right-hander who has been a standout for the Orioles, who made the All-Star team. After his first 17 games of the year, Cano had not allowed a run and had allowed just four hits over 21 2/3 innings. He gave up his first run this season on May 19 and first walk on May 25. He didn’t make the Opening Day roster but was pitching in the bigs in mid-April. So that was a stunning stretch of outstanding pitching.

But in 10 appearances before the recent series with the New York Yankees, Cano had an ERA of 5.00, allowing a .368 batting average and 1.000 OPS.

Then he faced the Yankees twice, and was particularly sharp during the "Sunday Night Baseball" game. He threw a scoreless inning on 17 pitches with three strikeouts.

Two of the strikeouts came on fastballs, but Cano threw nine sliders in that game. A pitcher who had averaged using his slider just 12 percent of the time on the year threw 53 percent in that game.

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O's pitching allows three runs on no hits in sixth as Blue Jays win 4-1 (updated)

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TORONTO – For an Orioles team that had been playing so well in moving into first place in the American League East, this night was a stark contrast to many recent ones.

O’s pitching and defense allowed Toronto to score three runs on no hits in the last of the sixth to break a 1-1 tie. And the Blue Jays went on to beat the Orioles 4-1 at Rogers Centre, taking the third game of this series.

The Orioles (66-42) maintain their 1.5 game lead on Tampa Bay, which lost to the Yankees. 

The Jays sixth started with right-hander Grayson Rodriguez having a sharp night riding. He sailed through the first three innings and had a two-hitter through five on 75 pitches. He was in a 1-1 tie.

And then he got the first two batters out but walked Brandon Belt on six pitches. Then he had a long duel with Vladimir Guerrero Jr., but after five foul balls, walked him on the 10th pitch. Manager Brandon Hyde went to the bullpen for Shintaro Fujinami, who had thrown 4 2/3 scoreless innings with seven strikeouts his past three games.

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O's game blog: A chance for another AL East series win

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TORONTO – The Orioles are unbeaten at the Rogers Centre this year, going 5-0 thus far in a ballpark where the 2018 Orioles went 0-10. A win tonight would give Baltimore another series win in the third game of this four-game series between American League East rivals. 

The Orioles pulled out a close win on Monday, taking the opener 4-2, and last night they routed the Blue Jays 13-3 while getting six extra-base hits among 16 hits. They scored three runs early and scored 10 from the sixth through the ninth innings.

Gunnar Henderson’s solo homer, No. 18, put the Orioles ahead 4-3 in the sixth, and they poured it on from there. Henderson added a two-run single an inning later, part of a four-RBI game. Anthony Santander was 3-for-4 and his grand slam in the eighth opened an eight-run lead, which grew to 10 on Ryan McKenna’s two-run single off Jordan Hicks in the ninth.

The Orioles are 7-1 this year against Toronto, outscoring them by 27 runs at 53-26. The Orioles have scored 6.63 runs per game in the season series, batting .298 with an .854 OPS against a Toronto pitching staff that ranks fourth in the AL with a 3.84 ERA. O’s pitchers have an ERA of 3.00 in the eight games versus Toronto hitters.

The Orioles have won three straight games, outscoring the Yankees and Blue Jays 26-8.

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Jack Flaherty joins the O's roster, set to start tomorrow in Toronto

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TORONTO – Acquired by the Orioles just ahead of Tuesday’s trade deadline for three minor league players, right-hander Jack Flaherty was activated and joined the Orioles today.

He will make his debut with his new club in Thursday’s series finale in Toronto at 3:07 p.m.

“It’s awesome. These guys have been playing unbelievable for them to be in first place,” Flaherty said of his new teammates today in his first interview as an Oriole. “To be playing the way they have all year, it’s special. Really lucky to come in here and join these guys.”

Flaherty went 7-6 with a 4.43 ERA in 20 starts for St. Louis. But since giving up 10 runs in a May 4 start against the Angels, he is 5-2 with a 3.58 ERA over his last 13 starts. He will wear No. 15 for the Orioles.

“Season is full of ups and downs," he said. "You get some rough ones and some good ones. I’ve done this it a little bit, and you learn from the ones that are rough. I’ve ironed some things out. It’s about performing now. Looking forward to these next couple of months.”

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Henderson, Mountcastle and Santander combine for 10 RBIs as O's rout Toronto 13-3 (updated)

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TORONTO – On the night the Orioles acquired another starter for the stretch drive – getting right-hander Jack Flaherty from St. Louis – current starter Kyle Bradish could not hold an early 3-0 lead.

But for the 2023 Orioles, that was not a problem. Not at all.

Gunnar Henderson hit a go-ahead homer in the sixth, hot-hitting Ryan Mountcastle drove in two more runs and Anthony Santander hit his second career grand slam as the Orioles whipped Toronto 13-3 to improve to 66-41 on the year. They are now 5-0 this season at Rogers Centre and are a season-high 25 games over the .500 mark.

The Orioles have now gone 10 straight American League East series without losing one, their longest streak since 11 in a row from Aug. 1-Sept. 30, 2012. The Orioles are 21-9 (.700) in their past 30 division games in this run of winning.

The 3-3 tie was erased when they scored one in the sixth, three in the seventh and four runs in the eighth. They added two in the ninth for 10 unanswered runs after the 3-3 tie. 

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O's game blog: O's face Hyun Jin Ryu making his 2023 season debut

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TORONTO – As the Orioles look for another American League East win tonight, they will face Toronto left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, who is making his season debut and pitching in the majors for the first time since June 1, 2022.

In that game he gave up three runs over four innings versus the Chicago White Sox, and later that month needed Tommy John surgery. He pitched just 27 innings last year, going 2-0 with a 5.67 ERA in six games before his surgery.

He makes his return tonight and the Blue Jays say they will temporarily go with a six-man rotation to give their other starters an extra day's rest.

Ryu pitched in four minor league rehab games, two at Triple-A, and allowed an ERA of 2.00. In 18 innings he allowed 13 hits with one walk, 16 strikeouts and 0.778 WHIP.

Over the weekend he pitched a final bullpen session as a tune-up for tonight.

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O's pregame notes on Tyler Wells, Ryan Mountcastle, the trade and more

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TORONTO – Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said the immediate plan for right-hander Tyler Wells, who was optioned to Double-A Bowie after Saturday night’s game, is still being formulated. But Wells will spend some time at the team's pitching lab in Bel Air in Harford County.

"It's still being mapped out," said Hyde. "He's going to go to our lab. The main thing is a little bit of rest. Get him backed off and allow the body a chance to recuperate. Give him a breather and not throw as much. Go to the lab, maybe work on some mechanical things. And then kind of slowly get him back to where we want him to be. But it's mainly about giving him more of a reset, and hopefully he can be a big part of our pitching the staff the last month, month and a half of the season."

As we got to the All-Star break Wells had an ERA of 3.18, and it was 2.83 in his last eight starts leading up to the break.

But over his past three starts his ERA is 11.00 over nine innings and he's allowed 2.11 WHIP. He has given up four homers and nine walks while getting eight strikeouts. Opponents have hit .278 with a 1.069 OPS.

Ryan Mountcastle drove in three runs last night with a two-run double and a sac fly. Mountcastle is a career .313/.371/.625/.996 hitter in 46 games versus Toronto, with 15 homers and 39 RBIs.

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O's game blog: Final game of the year between the Orioles and Yankees

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The Orioles and New York Yankees will play tonight to wrap up this series and their 2023 season series. The clubs will not meet again this year after tonight.

The Orioles blanked New York 1-0 Friday night on Anthony Santander’s walk-off home run in the last of the ninth. New York won 8-3 last night as right-hander Tyler Wells allowed three runs over 2 2/3 innings in his third straight ineffective outing. Ryan Mountcastle hit a solo homer Saturday night, his 13th.

The Orioles (63-41) have lost three of four games and are 6-6 over their past 12 games. They are 31-21 at home and 15-9 in July. They are about to close out their fourth straight winning month of the season, fifth if you count going 1-0 in March.

The Orioles need a win tonight to keep an impressive streak going. They have not lost an American League East series since April 9, when they started 0-2 in division series. Since then they are 6-0-2, with the winner of this series to be determined by tonight’s game.

The last time the Orioles had a streak longer than eight consecutive non-losing division series was 11 in a row from Aug. 1-Sept. 30, 2012. This run has seen the Orioles winning series versus Boston, Tampa Bay, Toronto, New York and Toronto. They then split series at Tampa Bay and New York before going 3-1 against the Rays last weekend.

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Notes on clubhouse at trade deadline, national attention for club, Wells' struggles

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The trade deadline is fast approaching. It is Tuesday at 6 p.m. ET and we are getting real close now.

The deadline has seemed to not be a big topic in the O’s clubhouse this year, and one reason may be the team’s desire to be buyers this time and not sellers.

O’s executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said Friday he is not looking to trade from the current 26-man roster, but he could not rule it out. Still, an O’s deal or deals, barring a surprise, would be one where the club deals a prospect or more for current major league talent.

Asked again Saturday about the deadline and whether it impacts his club, manager Brandon Hyde indicated it really does not and has not.

“The trade deadline is there and everyone knows that date," he said. "But we are focused on the Yankees and their good pitching staff, and they’ve always been a tough team. … I don’t think any of our guys are thinking about the trade deadline right now. Think they are worrying about winning this series."

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O's game blog: It's Game 2 for the Orioles and Rays at the Trop

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With a series-opening win against Tampa Bay under their belts, the Orioles look to make it two in a row tonight to open this four-game series. And they start tonight behind a pitcher on a real roll.

The Orioles (59-37) beat the Rays (60-40) 4-3 in 10 innings in the opener of the series. Colton Cowser’s sac fly to left on an 0-2 pitch scored the go-ahead run in the 10th. And then right-hander Félix Bautista put up a zero to get the win in the last of the 10th. Bautista, pitching for the second day in a row, needed just 15 pitches to get six outs in the victory.

The Orioles are in first place for the first time after 95 games of a season since Aug. 15, 2016. Until last night, the Rays had been in first place (or tied for the lead) in the American League East for the entire season.

The win means the Orioles have now gone 71 straight series without being swept. Baltimore is now 29-17 on the road, 6-5 in extra-inning games, 11-5 in July, 21-11 in series-opening games and 17-9 in one-run games.

The Orioles have now won 10 of their past 12 games, outscoring opponents 79-44 in that span.

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O's game blog: Dean Kremer faces the Dodgers in series finale

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In the 14th round of the 2016 MLB Draft, with pick No. 431 overall, the Los Angeles Dodgers selected right-handed pitcher Dean Kremer from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. He would pitch on their watch until July 18, 2018, when he and four other players were traded by the Dodgers to the Orioles for Manny Machado.

Today, for the first time in his career, Kremer will face the team that drafted him. And he will try to pitch the Orioles to a win in this series to avoid a three-game sweep after Los Angeles won 6-4 Monday night and 10-3 last night.

Kremer signed with the Dodgers for a bonus of $147,500 and reported to their rookie league team to make his pro debut on July 3, 2016 for the Ogden Raptors. He was pitching in High-A ball for most of the 2018 season and had just moved to Double-A, where he had made one start, when he was traded to the Orioles. They assigned him to Double-A Bowie, where he went 4-2 with a 2.58 ERA in eight starts to finish up the 2018 season.

Kremer (10-4, 4.59 ERA) got off to a slow start this season. His ERA was 6.67 at the end of April and 5.80 after his first start in May. But he has pitched better lately and has allowed two earned runs or fewer in four of his past six starts. In his first outing out of the All-Star break, on Friday against Miami, he gave up two hits and one run over six innings on 97 pitches.

The Orioles are 13-6 in his 19 starts, winning five of his last six games.

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O's game blog: Looking for a bounce-back win over the Los Angeles Dodgers

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With their eight-game win streak now over, the Orioles look to start a new one tonight as they also continue their pursuit to catch the Tampa Bay Rays atop the American League East. 

Chris Taylor’s grand slam in the sixth last night turned a two-run deficit into a two-run lead, helping the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Orioles 6-4 in the series opener. The O’s led the game 3-0 after two innings and 4-1 after five.

The Dodgers (54-39), who have won six of their past seven series, are 7-1 the last eight games and 15-6 in their past 21. They are now 25-23 on the road, 14-9 versus AL teams and 3-4 against AL East clubs.

They improved to 22-9 in series-opening games with their 22nd comeback win of 2023. They have an MLB-best 70 come-from-behind wins since the start of the 2022 season.

The Orioles had their season-long win streak snapped; they had outscored their opponents 60-20 during the eight consecutive wins. Every victory during the streak came against a team that entered the game with a .500 or better record. Had that streak reached nine, it would've been the longest win streak for the Birds over .500 or better clubs since taking nine in a row from July 9-17, 1998.

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