O’s game blog: Looking for a series win against Texas

During a year when the Orioles have just 11 series wins, they have only four at home. With a win today, they would take three of four in this series against Texas, producing their fifth home series victory.

They are 4-15-5 in home series this year. They won at home two of three May 31-June 2 versus Minnesota and two of three June 4-6 against Cleveland. They swept three from Washington at Camden Yards July 23-25 and took two of three from the Los Angeles Angels from Aug. 24-26. Since that series win they are 0-3-1 in four home series.

A 3-2 win last night provided a 2-1 edge in this series, and for the Orioles was a nice bounceback win after the blown lead in the ninth inning on Friday night. Chris Ellis went the first three innings on Saturday night and thus began a five-pitcher six-hitter with eight strikeouts. Brooks Kriske got the win and Dillon Tate got the last four outs for his third save.

Since the Orioles allowed 24 runs in being swept last weekend at Boston, they have allowed 17 runs over the last five games, with eight coming on Friday night. They’ve allowed three runs or fewer in four of the five games with two shutouts.

On the other hand, the O’s offense has not been putting up a lot of runs. They scored 10 runs at Boston, seven in three games at Philadelphia and have scored 11 in three games versus Texas. They’ve scored three or fewer in 11 of the last 14 games.

The Orioles (50-105) are 3-3 over the past six games and now are 13-24 in one-run games. Of their last 25 games, 15 have been decided by two runs or fewer, and they are 7-8 in those games.

Orioles third baseman Kelvin Gutiérrez drilled a two-run homer to right last night that provided Baltimore a 3-0 lead in the second inning. It was his second home run of the year, he also hit one on June 12 with Kansas City. It was his first home run with the Orioles, coming in his 127th plate appearance. It was the third homer of his career. Gutiérrez has hit safely in eight of his past nine games since Sept. 17, batting .333 (10-for-30) with three extra-base hits during that span. He has recorded multiple hits in back-to-back games for the second time this year, and first since May.

Valaika-Swings-Orange-Sidebar.jpgInfielder Pat Valaika’s RBI double in the seventh preceded the Gutiérrez homer and gave the Orioles a 1-0 lead as Valaika connected against a 3-2 slider. It was his first RBI since July 31. This marked his sixth-career go-ahead RBI in the seventh inning or later, and his third this season.

Austin Hays doubled in the eighth inning to extend his hitting streak to 11 games. Entering play Friday, his 14 extra-base hits in September were tied for the fifth-most in the American League and Hays has hit safely in 21 of 23 games this month. He is batting .310 (13-for-42) with seven extra-base hits and 10 RBIs during his current streak.

Lefty John Means (6-7, 3.25 ERA) will make his 25th start today. Means has allowed two earned runs or fewer in five straight starts, pitching to a 2.35 ERA in that span, with seven walks and 25 strikeouts over 30 2/3 innings. Opponents are batting .191 against him with a .546 OPS in those games.

Means, by most stat categories, is having a better season than in 2019, the last full season. His ERA dropped from 3.60 to 3.25 and his WHIP from 1.135 to 0.988. His walk rate is now better (1.7 from 2.2) and his strikeout rate increased (from 7.0 to 8.0). His ERA plus improved from 131 to 143, which is 43 percent above league average.

Despite the solid pitching, the Orioles are only 8-16 in Means’ 2021 starts and were 0-8 since July 31 before he got the win in his last start Monday at Philadelphia, when he threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings on 105 pitches.

Right-hander Dane Dunning (5-9, 4.34 ERA) gets the start for Texas. He has posted a WHIP of 1.427 this year with 9.8 hits per nine and 1.0 home runs. In 12 road games he is 0-7 with a 6.65 ERA and 1.717 WHIP.

Minor League awards: The Orioles announced their minor league award winners today. They will be honored before the game Tuesday at Camden Yards.

Adley Rutschman and Kyle Stowers were named co-winners of the Brooks Robinson Player of the Year Award. Rutschman hit .287/.399/.515/.914 between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk with 23 homers and 74 RBIs. Stowers hit .282/.385/.528/.913 with 27 homers and 83 RBIs between three teams.

Grayson Rodriguez won the Jim Palmer Award as Pitcher of the Year, going 9-1 with a 2.36 ERA over two levels.

Bowie manager Buck Britton won the Cal Ripken Sr. Player Development Award. And Brandon Verley won the Jim Russo Scout of the Year award.

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