O’s game blog: The final game before the All-Star break

It’s the final game before the All-Star break this afternoon in Baltimore as the Orioles host the Chicago White Sox to wrap up a three-game series and a rain-shortened homestand of five games. The Orioles will be swept for the 11th time this season if they lose the series finale today.

The White Sox won 12-1 Friday night and 8-3 on Saturday afternoon, making the Orioles 1-3 on this homestand. They’ve lost the last three games at Oriole Park by a combined 30-6 score. The Orioles have 25 hits in the three games, but have gone 4-for-29 with runners in scoring position.

They are 0-6 this season against the White Sox and have been outscored 38-11 in the season series. The Orioles have now lost seven straight games against Chicago dating back to 2019. It is the O’s longest losing streak against the White Sox since losing eight in a row from Sept. 12, 1989 to July 6, 1990.

The Orioles (28-60) have lost six of their last seven games since they swept three in a row on the road from the Houston Astros. They are now 13-29 at home, 1-6 this month and 3-40 when scoring three runs or fewer, something they have done three straight games.

O’s right-hander Spenser Watkins (1-0, 1.50 ERA) will make his third appearance and second start since the O’s called him up from Triple-A Norfolk. He was the winning pitcher on Tuesday over Toronto, throwing five innings and allowing three hits and one run on 89 pitches. Blue Jays batters went 3-for-16 against him. He threw his four-seam fastball 47 percent of the time in that game at an average velocity of 89.5 mph, topping at 91.7 mph, per Statcast. He used his cutter on 35 percent of his pitches in that game.

Watkins had a strong outing against a very good hitting team in the Blue Jays. Toronto began that game first in the majors in slugging, and second in homers, OPS and runs.

Watkins became the first Oriole since right-hander Dean Kremer on Sept. 16, 2020 to throw at least five innings and allow one or no runs in his first career major league start. He snapped a 24-game streak in which the O’s starting pitcher did not earn a win, the longest such streak in club history, per STATS. Today marks his second straight start at Oriole Park and his first appearance in a day game.

Camden Yards daytime.jpgWatkins was having a solid year at Triple-A Norfolk before he was called up. He went 1-2 with a 3.58 ERA over 32 2/3 innings, allowing a .205 average and 1.10 WHIP. He pitched to a 2.89 ERA in his last four Triple-A outings for the Tides.

His mound opponent today is right-hander Dylan Cease (7-4, 4.14 ERA), who is making his 18th start. The White Sox are 10-7 in his outings and 4-2 over his last six. Cease gave up six runs over 5 1/3 innings in his last game, versus Minnesota. Over his past four starts, he is 2-2 with a 6.64 ERA, allowing 15 earned runs over 20 1/3 with eight walks and 26 strikeouts. In that span, batters have hit .247 with an .811 OPS against him.

A sixth-round pick of the Cubs in the 2014 draft, Cease has allowed 76 hits in 87 innings for the year with 1.299 WHIP. He yields 1.0 homer per nine innings with a 3.8 walk rate and 11.5 strikeout rate.

On May 27 he got the win against the Orioles, allowing four hits and one run over six innings while throwing a season-high 111 pitches.

Infielder Domingo Leyba went 2-for-3 with a career-high-tying two RBIs on Saturday. He has recorded multiple hits in two of his past three games, after not doing so in 21 games prior. This was his second career game with at least two hits and two RBIs.

Shortstop Ramón Urías went 2-for-4 and has now recorded multiple hits in five of his last six games. He has hit safely in nine of 11 games since being recalled on June 27 and has 11 hits in July after recording six hits each in April, May and June.

Chicago (53-35) is now 22-21 on the road. Their 53 first-half wins are their most since winning 54 games in 2008. The White Sox have won back-to-back games at Oriole Park for the first time since Sept. 14-15, 2018. The White Sox are now 16-6-7 in overall series this season. They had 15 hits Friday and 13 yesterday and recorded at least 10 hits for the 31st time. Entering yesterday’s game, their 30 games with at least 10 hits were the fifth-most in the American League.

Cedric Mullins’ 105 hits prior to the All-Star Game are the most by an Oriole since 2018 (Manny Machado - 115 in 96 games). They are the 24th-most by an Oriole player pre-All-Star break in club history. The club record is 128 by Machado in 2013 (96 games).

Ryan Mountcastle has walked 12 times, while striking out just 13 times, since June 24 (14 games) and has drawn at least one walk in nine of the 14 games.

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