O’s game blog: Gabriel Ynoa pitches series opener at Houston

After the Orioles went 1-2 at Texas, their road trip moves to Houston and Minute Maid Park. They’ll play the Astros tonight in the opener of a three-game series.

It’s a matchup of a Houston (43-21) club that is tied with Minnesota for the best win percentage in the American League against an O’s club (19-43) that has a win percentage of .306 to equal Kansas City at the bottom of the AL.

While the Orioles are 0-11-1 in their past 12 series, Houston is 9-0-1 in its last 10. The Astros lost 100 or more each year from 2011 through 2013, but they won 101 and the World Series in 2017 and added 103 wins last year. They are currently on pace for 109 wins this year.

The 1969-71 Orioles had three straight 100-win seasons, posting 318 total wins. The Astros right now are on pace to win 313 in their current three-year run.

Houston is 6-1 over its last seven games and has a record of 25-7 since May 4. They have continued to win in recent days with a lineup that is missing Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and George Springer. All three are on the injured list. Houston is 22-8 at home, and that is the best home mark in the league. When Houston scores four runs or more, the Astros are 35-5.

After losing by one run the last two nights at Texas, the Orioles have lost six of eight, 14 of 18 and 21 of the last 27. They are 11-20 on the road. The Orioles have won the series-opening game of their past three series.

The O’s Trey Mancini is 9-for-22 (.409) over his last six games with three homers and five RBIs. Hanser Alberto went 8-for-15 with eight singles in the series at Texas. Over his last 15 games, he’s batting .390 (23-for-59) with four doubles, a homer and five RBIs. Over his last 16 games, Renato Núñez is batting .322 (19-for-59) with eight homers and 16 RBIs. He’s homered seven times his past 14 games and eight times in the last 16 contests.

gabriel-ynoa-black-sidebar.jpgTonight, right-hander Gabriel Ynoa (0-2, 5.06 ERA) will start for the third straight time. The last two games combined he went nine innings, allowing 10 hits and six runs (four earned) with three walks and eight strikeouts.

Before those two starts, Ynoa had given up 12 runs (10 earned) over 6 1/3 his previous four games. Lefty batters are hitting .214 with a .582 OPS against him, while right-handers are batting .357/1.007.

Right-hander Gerrit Cole (5-5, 3.94) will make his 14th start. For the year his WHIP is 1.043, and he averages 2.3 walks per nine innings with 13.4 strikeouts. Houston is 8-5 in his outings. Cole has nine quality starts this year. The Orioles’ entire pitching staff has a total of 14.

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft, Cole was good with Pittsburgh but has gotten even better since joining Houston.

* Five years with Pittsburgh: 3.50 ERA, 1.217 WHIP, 8.4 strikeouts per nine innings
* Two years with Houston: 3.17 ERA, 1.036 WHIP, 12.7 strikeouts per nine innings

Cole throws his four-seam fastball 54 percent of the time with an average velocity of 97.1 mph. He throws his slider 23 percent, curve 18 percent and changeup five percent.

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