O’s game blog: The final homestand begins

Things move fast in a shortened 60-game season and the final homestand will begin tonight. The Orioles (20-26) will host the Atlanta Braves (28-19) to start a three-game series and an eight-game homestand versus first-place teams. Tampa Bay is in town beginning Thursday.

The Braves lead the National League East by 3 1/2 games over Miami and by four over Philadelphia. Atlanta just won three out of four at Washington, a series that began a day after Wednesday’s 29-9 win over Miami. The Braves are 8-5 in September and 13-11 on the road. They are 9-5 versus American League teams and 19-14 against the NL.

Tonight marks the first time since 2018 that these clubs have played each other and the first time since 2015 that Atlanta has visited Camden Yards. The Orioles have won the last three series between the teams, going 2-1 in 2012, 3-0 in 2015, and 2-1 in 2018. The 2015 sweep by the Orioles was in Baltimore, and the Braves have not won a game at Camden Yards since June 12, 2009.

Atlanta has a prolific offense, one that is scoring 5.94 runs per game. Atlanta leads the majors in team slugging (.488) and team OPS (.834), and ranks third in batting (.270) and second in OBP (.346.)

The top three hitters in their lineup tonight have OPS numbers over 1.000. Ronald Acuña Jr. is at 1.026, with Freddie Freeman at 1.026 and Marcell Ozuna at 1.020.

The Braves have scored a major league-leading 279 runs. The next closest team, the Dodgers, have 267. The 279 runs are the second-most the club has ever scored through 47 games in the modern era. The 5.94 runs per game would set a major league record and equates to 962 runs scored for a 162-game season.

Thumbnail image for Lopez-Throws-White-Sidebar.jpgRight-hander Jorge López (1-0, 6.38 ERA) will get the chance to try and slow that offense. Tonight he makes his fourth start for the Orioles. They are 1-2 in the previous starts. He gave up three earned runs and six hits over 9 2/3 innings in his first two starts. But on Tuesday against the New York Mets, López allowed six hits and five runs in 4 2/3 innings on 84 pitches.

He has made one career appearance with two scoreless innings against Atlanta. In six career interleague games with two starts, López is 1-0 with a 3.92 ERA and 0.968 WHIP. In 20 2/3 innings, he has walked two and fanned 22.

Right-hander Touki Toussaint (0-1, 7.89 ERA) was recalled today by Atlanta and will make his seventh appearance and fifth start for the Braves. He has not pitched since a relief outing Aug. 23 where he gave up one run in 1 1/3 innings. Over his past two starts, which came against the Yankees and Nats, he pitched seven innings and gave up six hits and 10 runs (nine earned), allowing three home runs.

He has never faced Baltimore. In six career interleague appearances, he is 1-2 with a 10.98 ERA. In three games against the AL this season, he is 0-1 with a 9.45 ERA. Toussaint has allowed at least six runs in two of his three appearances this season and the Braves are 3-3 in his six interleague games.

The Orioles look to get their offense going after scoring just three runs during the four-game sweep at Yankee Stadium. They hit just .138 (16-for-116) in that series and went 2-for-20 with runners in scoring position. They had just two hits in the first game of that series and then added four, four and six in the last three.

Major League Baseball team batting average leaders on an 0-0 count:

.424 - Orioles
.421 - San Diego
.411 - Atlanta
.391 - San Francisco
.384 - New York Mets

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