O’s game blog: Shooting for another win at Tampa Bay

The Orioles have won three in a row five times this season but have never stretched the win streak to four. They will look to do that tonight at Tropicana Field in the second game of their series with Tampa Bay.

Right-hander Spenser Watkins allowed one run over six innings last night as the Orioles beat the Rays 6-1 for their third in a row.

O’s pitchers have allowed just one run in the last 22 innings. They have a 1.67 ERA over the past three games as the team has outscored its opponents 19-5. Watkins and Matt Harvey have allowed just one run over 12 innings the last two games. They posted back-to-back quality starts after the O’s had just two QS in the previous 37 games.

The O’s bullpen recorded three scoreless innings Monday night. In the last three games, the ‘pen has thrown 10 1/3 scoreless on six hits with three walks to 11 strikeouts.

The Orioles are excited to welcome left-hander John Means back to their starting rotation tonight. Means (4-2, 2.28 ERA) has been out since leaving a start in the first inning June 5 against Cleveland. He gave up three hits and two runs in just 2/3 of an inning and later went on the injured list with a strained left shoulder. He made three rehab starts, one each at high Single-A Aberdeen, Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk leading up to his return to the Orioles tonight.

Thumbnail image for Means-Throws-Gray-SEA-Sidebar.jpgAt the time of Means’ injury, he ranked second in the American League and sixth in the majors in ERA. His .173 opponent average was third in the AL and his 0.831 WHIP going into that Cleveland game ranked first in the AL and fourth in the bigs.

While O’s pitchers have struggled to get deep into games, Means has thrown six innings or more in eight starts. On May 5 at Seattle he pitched the sixth no-hitter in Orioles history, allowing no walks and notching 12 strikeouts in a 113-pitch outing.

Means went to Sarasota for his rehab and played catch every other day at first, leading up to live bullpen sessions, leading up to his rehab starts. Now tonight, the O’s get their ace back.

Means has one start this year versus Tampa Bay, and he gave up six hits and four runs in 6 1/3 innings on 95 pitches. It was the highest run total Means has allowed in any start this year. He is 3-1 with a 3.71 ERA and 0.882 WHIP in six career games against Tampa Bay. The Orioles are 5-7 in his 2021 starts.

Lefty Shane McClanahan (3-3, 4.05 ERA) will make his 14th start for the home team. McClanahan, who has never faced the Orioles, was Tampa Bay’s first-round draft pick (No. 31 overall) in 2018. He is 24 and was born in Baltimore. The Rays drafted him out of the University of South Florida.

In 60 innings on the year he has allowed 55 hits and nine homers with 21 walks and 71 strikeouts. He has recorded a 1.267 WHIP, allowing 8.3 hits per nine with a 3.2 walk rate and 10.7 strikeout rate.

He gave up one run and four hits over four innings in his most recent start, which was against Toronto. He had thrown six innings twice in 13 starts but has gone just 5 1/3 or less in the other 11. The Rays are 7-6 in his outings.

The O’s previous three-game win streaks

* April 2-4 in a season-opening three-game sweep at Boston.
* April 29-May 1 with a win over the New York Yankees and two over Oakland.
* June 1-4 with two wins over Minnesota and one over Cleveland.
* June 28-30 with a three-game sweep at Houston.
* July 17-19 with two wins over Kansas City and one over Tampa Bay.

Austin Hays had three hits last night for the third time this year. He had two hits off lefties and is now batting .349 (29-for-83) in those matchups this season. Hays has hit safely in 15 of his last 20 games, batting .333 (24-for-72) during that stretch.

Ryan Mountcastle had a first-inning, RBI double in the win. His 74 career RBIs are the second-most by an Oriole in his first 122 career games in team history, trailing Trey Mancini (75).

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