O’s notes on the offense, Oliver Drake and the minors

It was a much-needed win and a much-needed solid outing by Orioles right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez. He gave up two runs over six innings last night as the Orioles beat the Padres 7-2 to split a two-game series.

The win improved the Birds to 41-30 and, with Boston’s loss to the White Sox, the Orioles opened a two-game lead atop the American League East over Boston.

For the first time since June 5-6, O’s starting pitchers have recorded back-to-back quality starts. Tyler Wilson and Jimenez allowed five runs in 12 innings in the series.

Meanwhile, the O’s offense is percolating quite well right now. They scored 14 runs the last two nights. Over the past four games, they have a team batting average of .364 with 28 runs, 55 hits, 11 doubles and six homers.

Mark Trumbo began last night in a 4-for-26 slump and without a homer since June 7. He then ended a 13-game homerless run with a solo blast in the second inning. It was part of a 3-for-5 night for Trumbo with a single, double and homer. In 21 games in June, Trumbo is batting .282 with six homers, 15 RBIs, a .553 slugging percentage and an OPS of .883.

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The Orioles hit two homers last night as Ryan Flaherty also connected on a solo shot. They’ve hit 24 the last 13 games, 31 in 16 games and 42 home runs in their last 20 games. The Orioles get an off day today and begin a four-game, three-day series at Camden Yards with Tampa Bay on Friday night.

The Drake returns to Baltimore: The right-hander that pitched for eight seasons in the Orioles minor leagues until getting his first big league shot last year is now back with the Orioles.

Oliver Drake, the 43rd round draft pick in 2008 out of the Naval Academy, joined the team on Tuesday. He jumped right into the fire, coming in during the eighth inning with the bases loaded against San Diego. While he pitched two scoreless innings on 35 pitches, he did allow two inherited runners to score on a wild pitch and a groundout.

But having been with the team last year can help him now, Drake said.

“Everything is not so new. You kind of know what to expect coming up here. That experience from last year definitely helps. That is probably the biggest thing,” he said.

Drake pitched to an ERA of 2.03 in with 42 strikeouts in 26 2/3 innings at Triple-A Norfolk. He left that team on a run of 14 straight appearances without allowing an earned run with 25 strikeouts over 14 innings.

“Was just trying to get ahead and stay ahead and then put people away when you get into counts you want to be in. Just really tried to focus on being consistent every time out there,” Drake said of his strong recent run of games with the Tides.

O’s manager Buck Showalter said Drake needs to improve on his pitch efficiency at times to allow him to pitch multiple innings for the Orioles. Drake is working on it.

“You try to attack hitters right away and work on getting ahead,” Drake said. “Starts from the first pitch, get that strike. You can do more then and put the batter in a vunerable position.”

I asked Drake about his season with Norfolk. The team has struggled and is in last place with the International League’s worst record at 26-47. At the same time players are looking to put their best foot forward to get to the majors. Kind of a unique situation.

“A little bit,” Drake said. “But at the same time, everyday you go out there to win and do your best. Everyone’s individual success contributes to the team’s success. That is what everyone is trying to do down there,” Drake added.

On the farm last night: Right-hander Mike Wright pitched well as Lehigh Valley beat Norfolk 2-1. Wright gave up five hits and one run over six innings with two walks and three strikeouts. He threw 96 pitches, 58 for strikes.

Trey Mancini singled in four at-bats and has now hit .316 in June. He has hit safely in eight of his past nine games, batting .371 (13-for-35). Right-hander Chaz Roe worked a scoreless eighth inning, his 12th consecutive scoreless appearance.

Double-A Bowie split a doubleheader at home last night, losing Game 1, 3-0 to Trenton and winning Game 2, 4-3. O’s catcher Caleb Joseph played both games on a rehab assignment, going 4-for-5 with a double, three singles, a run scored, an RBI and a hit by pitch.

Right-hander David Hess (3-5, 3.96 ERA) gets the start for Bowie tonight. He had a start skipped recently and has not pitched since June 12. Hess pitched to an ERA of 2.33 in his first seven starts for the Baysox but his ERA is 6.48 his past five starts. So it looks like the Orioles gave him a break, skipped that start and can better control his season innings total by skipping a turn. Before the 2016 season, Hess was ranked as the Orioles’ No. 18 prospect by Baseball America.

Short season Single-A Aberdeen beat Auburn 7-0 last night in its home opener at Ripken Stadium. The IronBirds are 2-4. In his first pro game, O’s third round draft pick, right fielder Austin Hayes, went 3-for-4 with an RBI triple. Jaylen Ferguson hit a solo homer and drove in two runs for Aberdeen, which had 13 hits. Right-hander Alex Wells pitched six scoreless innings and is 1-1 with a 1.64 ERA through two starts.

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