O’s game blog: Can Birds put up runs on Taijuan Walker?

The Orioles’ recent run of offensive success will get a real test tonight as they play the New York Mets in the second game of a two-game series. They will face right-hander Taijuan Walker (4-2, 2.17), a pitcher that ranks fifth in the National League in ERA and has already beaten the Orioles once this season.

On May 12 at Citi Field, Walker went seven innings, allowing four hits and one run on 97 pitches. For the year, he has allowed 34 hits in 54 innings, giving up just two home runs with 23 walks and 51 strikeouts. He has a WHIP of 1.056 that ranks 14th in the NL and his average against of .181 is eighth-best in the league.

Lefty batters hit .165 against him with an OPS of .492, while right-handers bat .193/.530. The Mets are 8-2 in his starts and he has allowed two earned runs or less eight times. Although not in his last game on Thursday at San Diego, when he gave up four runs (three earned) and seven hits in five innings, throwing 104 pitches.

Tonight he faces an Orioles team that has scored 18 and 10 runs in the last two games and 48 runs over six games in June, going 5-1. In wins Sunday and last night, they went 37-for-82 at bat (.451) with 10 doubles and four homers. They were 18-for-34 (.529) with runners in scoring position in the two games.

The O’s 48 runs scored this month are the most in baseball and their 39 strikeouts while hitting are the fewest. They have scored double-digit runs in each of their last two games, the first time with consecutive games of double-digit runs since Sept. 23-24, 2019.

The combined 28 runs scored in their last two games are the fourth-most in a two-game span in club history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. This output was behind only the 29 runs from June 13-14, 1999, 32 runs from Aug. 15-16, 1996 and 36 runs from Sept. 28-29, 2000. The O’s have collected at least 16 hits in back-to-back games for the first time since June 26-28, 2016. The club record is three straight games from May 24-27, 2003.

Valaika-Throws-at-2B-White-Sidebar.jpgIn Tuesday’s 10-3 win over the Mets, seven Orioles had multi-hit games, while Maikel Franco and Pat Valaika drove in three runs each. Franco drove in three on one swing, when he blasted a homer into the second deck at Camden Yards in the fifth inning. He became the sixth player to reach the second deck and the third Oriole, following Mark Reynolds in 2011 and Manny Machado in 2017.

O’s center fielder Cedric Mullins has five, three and two hits over his last three games. He is 10-for-13 in those games with three doubles, three homers and five RBIs, raising his batting average from .298 to .325. During an eight-game hitting streak, Mullins is 17-for-32 with four doubles, two triples, three homers, eight runs and five RBIs, along with an OPS of 1.657 in that span.

Mullins among American League leaders:

* First in hits with 75
* Second in doubles with 17 and total bases with 125
* Third in batting average at .325
* Fifth in OPS at .935 and OBP at .394

Valaika produced a two-run double in the second inning and an RBI double in the third. His first double, at 109.7 mph, was his hardest-hit ball since joining the Orioles in 2020 and the second-hardest-hit of his career (110.1 mph double on April 8, 2019). This is the first time he has doubled twice in a game in his career and was the sixth three-RBI game of his career, his first since tallying four RBIs on Sept. 16, 2017 with Colorado against San Diego.

Shortstop Freddy Galvis went 3-for-5 and scored two runs in Tuesday’s win. This was his third straight multi-hit game and his second game of the year with three or more hits (four hits, April 17 at Texas), and his 12th multi-hit game of the season. Galvis is 7-for-14 (.500) over the current three-game span with one double, two RBIs and three runs scored.

On the mound tonight, right-hander Matt Harvey (3-6, 6.62 ERA) makes his 13th start and faces his former team. On May 12 in New York, he gave up eight hits and seven runs in 4 1/3 innings. Harvey pitched to an ERA of 3.60 over his first seven starts with a .693 OPS against. He then went through a four-start stretch with an ERA of 15.15 and an 1.171 OPS against. He pitched three innings in a planned short start in his last game, allowing two hits and one run on 43 pitches last Wednesday versus Minnesota.

Harvey has allowed 66 hits in 51 2/3 innings with a 1.606 WHIP, allowing 11.5 hits per nine innings with 3.0 walks and 7.8 strikeouts. The Orioles are 5-7 in his outings this season.

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