O’s game blog: The series opener at Seattle

The West Coast road trip continues at T-Mobile Park tonight when the Orioles play the Seattle Mariners to start a three-game series. The Orioles (13-15) took two of three over the weekend at Oakland. Seattle (16-13) won two of three from the Los Angeles Angels.

The Mariners are 5-2-2 in series play this year and 8-6 at home. They are 14-8 in their last 22 games, a stretch that includes a four-game series in Baltimore where they won three of four games. When these clubs last played on April 15, Seattle swept a doubleheader by 4-2 and 2-1 scores.

The Mariners are 13-5 in their last 18 games against the Orioles and 23-10 over their last 33 games. Seattle is 8-2 in series against the O’s during that span.

The Orioles had a three-game win streak snapped when they lost 7-5 on Sunday at Oakland. The Orioles have won three of four and are 5-3 over the last eight games and 8-7 over the last 15. They are 9-5 on the road and 4-1 in series-opening road games.

Kremer-Delivers-Gray-NYY-Sidebar.jpgRight-hander Dean Kremer (0-2, 8.40 ERA) will make his fifth start of the season and the ninth of his career tonight. Kremer was hit hard in a 7-0 loss to the Yankees on Wednesday. He went 4 1/3 innings, allowing 10 hits and six runs with no walks and four strikeouts on 89 pitches.

Yankees batters went 10-for-22 against Kremer with two doubles and two homers. Mike Ford hit a solo shot against him and Gio Urshela blasted a three-run homer off a cut fastball. The Yankees’ average exit velocity was 97.8 mph in that game.

Kremer has thrown 15 innings on the year, allowing 24 hits, and the O’s are 2-2 in his starts. He has a WHIP of 2.000, allowing 14.4 hits per nine with 3.6 walks and 10.8 strikeouts.

Kremer did not score great in opponent exit velocity or hard-hit percentage in his four starts last year. But that has gotten worse for him in 2021. His average exit velocity given up has gone from 90.8 mph last year to 93.7 mph now, which ranks in the worst two percentile in the majors. His hard-hit percentage has gone up from 46.9 to 54.2 to rank in the bottom three percentile.

Last year, opponents hit just .222 off his four-seam fastball with a slugging against of .370. Now they are batting .405 and slugging .568 off that pitch. His cutter last year yielded an average of .200 and now that is .417. Opponents’ slugging against the pitch has gone up from .533 to 1.000. So right there are two pitches with very different results year over year for the 25-year-old Kremer.

Right-hander Erik Swanson (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will be making his second appearance of the year and his first was against Baltimore. He went two scoreless innings on April 13 versus the O’s.

Tonight this will be his ninth career start and first since July 25, 2019. In 37 career games, he is 1-7 with a 6.38 ERA in 67 2/3 innings.

The O’s Cedric Mullins is tied for second in the majors with 35 hits. Trey Mancini is tied for third in the American League with 21 RBIs. The O’s 3.18 team ERA in road games ranks tied for fifth-best in the majors. Baltimore’s bullpen ERA of 3.05 ranks fifth-best in the AL and the majors. Seattle is No. 1 at 2.30.

Before the game tonight, the Orioles optioned lefty Bruce Zimmermann to the alternate site and added right-hander Isaac Mattson. When he was at the alternate site last July, I did this interview with Mattson. Click on the story to read more about his trade to the Orioles from the Angels, his strong career strikeout rate and more. A long video interview with Mattson is included as well.

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