O’s game blog: Looking for two in a row against Rangers

After pitching their second shutout of the last four games and fifth of the season on Thursday night, the Orioles resume their home series tonight with Texas. They host the Rangers for Game 2 of a four-game series and seven-game homestand.

Thursday night, lefty Zac Lowther and three relievers teamed on a five-hitter with nine strikeouts. Lowther went the first five innings, allowing three singles with two walks and a career-best seven strikeouts. He threw 94 pitches, 58 for strikes, and two of the hits he allowed were infield hits.

Lowther, who got his first major league win and is now 1-2 with a 7.66 ERA, threw 48 four-seam fastballs and 19 curveballs as his most-used secondary pitch. He got eight whiffs on 21 swings against his fastball and five of 11 against his curveball. The Rangers went 3-for-17 against him.

The last four O’s starters - John Means, opener Conner Greene, Keegan Akin and Lowther - allowed just one run on 13 hits over 18 innings with four walks to 21 strikeouts.

Over the weekend, O’s pitchers allowed 24 runs in losing three games at Boston. But in the four games since, they have given up zero, three, four and zero runs for a total of seven runs allowed in that time.

Last night, the Orioles recorded their first home shutout since July 21, 2019 against Boston with Asher Wojciechowski as the starter.

They did not allow a home run, and it was the seventh time this year Baltimore pitchers have not allowed a homer at Oriole Park and they are 6-1 in those games. Each of the Orioles’ last three wins have come when scoring three or fewer runs and their record is now 6-69 in such games.

The Orioles are now 3-1 on the year against Texas and are just one game under .500 in games versus American League West teams. O’s record by division and league:

.483 against the AL West (14-15)
.350 against the National League East (7-13)
.294 against the AL Central (10-24)
.257 against the AL East (18-52)

So the Orioles have won .350 percent of their games versus NL teams and .316 (42-91) against the AL.

Alexander-Wells-Throws-White-Sidebar.jpgO’s lefty Alexander Wells (1-3, 7.96 ERA) will try to keep the O’s good starting pitching going tonight. But Wells has allowed 13 hits and 10 runs in his past two starts against New York and Boston. In his last three starts when facing an AL East team, he has allowed 16 runs in 11 1/3 innings.

In nine games for the year, Wells has a 1.832 WHIP, allowing 12.8 hits per nine and 2.3 home runs. He is 0-1 with an ERA of 8.00 in three home games.

Texas right-hander Spencer Howard (0-4, 6.86 ERA) will be making his seventh start for his new team. Drafted in round two of 2017 by Philadelphia, he was traded from the Phillies to the Rangers in July as part of a six-player deal. In six starts with Texas, he is 0-2 with a 9.22 ERA. But he pitched three scoreless innings in his last start against the Chicago White Sox.

The O’s Ryan Mountcastle hit his 31st homer last night and that leads all major league rookies. It was his 10th homer in his past 28 games.

Mountcastle also leads all major league rookies in slugging percentage (.496), and ranks second in OPS (.809), total bases (248), and extra-base hits (55). Mountcastle’s 248 total bases are the fourth-most in a single season by an O’s rookie. His .496 slugging percentage would be the highest single-season mark by a rookie in franchise history, surpassing the current record of .488 set by Trey Mancini in 2017. His 55 extra-base hits rank third all-time among O’s rookies, behind only Cal Ripken Jr. (65 in 1982) and Eddie Murray (58 in 1977). Mountcastle’s 84 RBIs are the fifth-most in a single season by an O’s rookie, trailing only Jim Gentile (98 in 1960), Cal Ripken Jr. (93 in 1982), Eddie Murray (88 in 1977) and Ron Hansen (86 in 1960).

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