O’s game blog: Series finale against Rays

There was a time when the Orioles were playing good baseball on the road. But you have to go back to the beginning of the 2021 season. They went 4-2 on their first road trip to Boston and New York. They went 3-2 on a trip to Texas and Miami and 4-2 on a trip to Oakland and Seattle. That one ended with a no-hitter.

But if they lose today, the Orioles will have a fourth winless road trip this year.

From May 21-30, they went 0-10 at Washington, Minnesota and the Chicago White Sox. And from June 11-17, they were 0-7 at Tampa Bay and Cleveland. Now they are 0-6 through Boston and Tampa/St. Pete, and will go 0-7 they lose the series finale today at Tropicana Field.

American League East-leading Tampa Bay (74-47) has won the first three in this series by scores of 9-2, 10-0 and 8-4. The Orioles’ losing streak has reached 14 games during which they have been outscored 131-40. They are winless in the six games of the road trip by a combined score of 57-11.

During these six games, they have scored one, two, two, two, zero and four runs. They have scored just 21 runs in their last nine games. In those nine, they are 6-for-67 batting with runners in scoring position.

Mullins-Starts-HR-Trot-Gray-Sidebar.jpgCenter fielder Cedric Mullins hit a leadoff homer last night on an 0-2 pitch to give the Orioles the early 1-0 lead. Mullins is the team homer leader with 21, with Trey Mancini and Ryan Mountcastle next with 20 each. Mullins hit a slider off righty Louis Head 392 feet with an exit velocity of 99.5 mph, and he’s now batting .315/.378/.538/.916 with 29 doubles, four triples, 21 homers and 42 RBIs.

In an attempt to become the first 30/30 player (homers and steals) in Orioles history, Mullins is just about right on pace for that. At his current pace, he would finish with 29 homers and 30 steals. The Orioles have 43 games to play.

The O’s (38-81) are on a pace to finish 52-110. That would the second-most losses in club history behind the 2018 team that went 47-115.

The club was 10-6 in its first 16 games of the second half but is now 10-20. The Orioles are 13-37 versus AL East teams, are 21-44 on the road and 1-15 in August.

The Rays improved to a season-best 27 games over .500 with their win Wednesday. They improved to 10-3 in their last 13 games, 14-5 in their last 19 and 21-10 since the All-Star break. They have won eight straight games against the Orioles, the second-longest winning streak against them in club history behind April 30-Sept. 24, 2008, when they won 12 straight. Tampa Bay is 38-18 (.679) against AL East opponents, including 32-10 in their last 42 games against divisional foes.

The Rays have scored eight or more runs in 10 of their last 12 games since Aug. 6 and in 58.3 percent (14 of 24) of games since Nelson Cruz debuted on July 23, compared to 19.6 percent (19 of 97) of game before it. The Rays have scored a majors-best 6.71 runs per game since then. Tampa Bay has 38 come-from-behind wins, the most in the majors, and has come from behind to beat the Orioles nine times this season.

Right-hander Jorge López (3-13, 6.14 ERA) will make his 25th start this afternoon. He gave up seven runs over 3 1/3 against Boston in his last outing. But in the two previous against the Yankees and Rays, he gave up three runs in 12 innings. That includes his Aug. 8 game versus the Rays where he allowed four hits and two runs over six innings.

Lefty Shane McClanahan (7-4, 3,73 ERA) will make his 19th start for the Rays. The team is 11-7 in his previous starts, winning the last three. Over his last six games, he is 4-1 with a 2.97 ERA. In that span, he pitched twice versus the Orioles, allowing four runs in 12 innings.

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