O’s begin tough stretch of division games with a win

With four months of baseball basically in the books and two months to go, the Orioles still have a lot of American League East games left to play. They began a tough stretch in the schedule last night in terms of AL East opponents with a 7-1 win in the Bronx. It was an impressive start to this series and this stretch of games.

Through the end of the series in Detroit, the Orioles had played half of their AL East games for the 2021 season, with half still to play. They had played 38 with 38 still to go. So in the first 104 games, they had played 36.5 percent of those games versus AL East opponents. But that meant that, of the remaining 58 games - a season-ending run that began last night - they would play 38 against division opponents, so 65.5 percent of the remaining games.

Tough schedule right? Darn straight.

The AL East is the only division with four teams playing .500 ball or better. And all four are at least five games over the .500 mark.

The Orioles are 13-26 in the division, going 5-6 versus New York, 4-6 against Boston, 3-6 versus Toronto and 1-8 against Tampa Bay.

“It’s a huge challenge these last two months,” manager Brandon Hyde said before Monday’s game. “All four teams in our division are already excellent teams and they all got better (at the trade deadline) and we play them quite a bit.

It’s a nice test for our guys. We’re not going to back down from the challenge, but it’s a tough schedule just because these teams are loaded up and they’re trying to get there in October and they’ve got October-type lineups. Not going to be easy. It’s the schedule that’s given and we’re going to do our best.”

The Orioles began a run of six straight games within the division last night, and they will play 13 of their next 16 and 22 of the next 31 through Sept. 5 within the AL East.

If the Orioles can hold their own - and the second half is off to a nice start at 10-6 - it could mean some things that will be important for the 2022 Orioles.

No doubt the Yankees, who just added Anthony Rizzo and Joey Gallo, were planning on a Yankee Stadium win last night against a pitcher who had an ERA of 8.44 against them this year and a 7.23 ERA for his six career starts.

Lopez-Follow-Through-Gray-SEA-Sidebar.jpgBut right-hander Jorge López flipped their script, allowing one run and one hit over six innings.

Suddenly, the O’s are getting six-inning outings with some regularity. They have three in the last four games from their starting pitchers, and they have seven in the last 14 games and are 7-0 in those games. In that span, Matt Harvey has three games of six innings or more, John Means has two, López and Spenser Watkins have one each.

O’s starters allowed one earned run or zero in seven of those 14 games, and the rotation ERA is 3.96 in this span.

Better starts, deeper starts. It’s working in the second half for the Orioles.

With four more home runs last night, the Orioles have hit 21 in their last 11 games. They have eight games with two or more homers in that span. Of the 22 home runs the Orioles have hit since the All-Star break, 20 have been solo shots.

The Orioles lost their first two games against the Yankees. But with last night’s with they are 5-4 in the last nine games against New York.

The Yankees were held to three hits last night, and that ties Seattle for the league lead with 10 games of three or fewer hits. The Yankees are now 0-28 when they trail in a game by four runs or more.

In his first eight games this season against O’s pitching, Aaron Judge went 14-for-26 with a double, seven homers and 12 RBIs. He went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts last night.

Yankees batters went 1-for-18 versus López, who threw a season-high 106 pitches, which is six off his career high of 112 set in 2019.

With the win last night, the Orioles are now 6-5 on Mondays this season. It is the only day of the week when they have a winning record, but they are 8-8 on Fridays.

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