O’s game blog: O’s face Boston in series opener

After going 3-3 on their last road trip through the American League East cities of Toronto and New York, the Orioles begin their second-to-last road trip of the season tonight where they began their 2021 season, Fenway Park in Boston.

That first series went great for Baltimore as the Orioles swept the three games by a combined 18-5 score. But in a return trip there in mid-August, the Orioles were outscored 30-5 and swept three straight by Boston, and that included a 16-2 loss.

The Orioles (47-99) came up with their fifth walk-off win of the season last night and first since July 28. They improved to 4-6 in extra-inning games, including 3-1 against the Yankees. The Orioles were behind 2-1 after the eighth inning, yet won, and they are now 2-82 when trailing after the eighth inning.

The Orioles finished the season series 8-11 against the Yankees, the first time the O’s have defeated New York more than seven times in a season since 2016, when they went 10-9. The Orioles are 18-49 overall in AL East games and 10-22 on the road. They are 4-9 versus Boston, including a 3-3 mark on the road.

O’s outfielder Austin Hays produced the walk-off single in the last of the 10th last night in the Orioles’ 3-2 win over the Yankees. He went 3-for-11 in the three-game series with two homers and four RBIs. For the year, over 115 games, he is batting .253/.300/.463/.763 with 20 homers and 64 RBIs. His OPS plus is just above league average at 102. It was Hays’ first career walk-off hit, and he is now batting .556 (5-for-9) with 12 RBIs this season with the bases loaded.

Hays-HR-Gray-sidebar.jpgHe’s hit safely in 20 of his last 22 games since Aug. 24, raising his OPS 77 points during this stretch, from .686 to his current mark. He’s batting .293/.339/.690/1.028 (17-for-58) with three doubles, a triple, six home runs and 15 RBIs in 14 September games. His six homers are the most he’s hit in any month this season. For his career, Hays has slashed .297/.339/.540 (71-for-239) with 14 home runs in 69 September/October games. He has 15 total homers in all other months combined (121 games).

Boston (83-65) begins play this weekend holding the second AL wild-card spot in a very close race for two spots between three AL East teams.

.562 - Toronto (82-64)
.561 - Boston (83-65)
.558 - New York (82-65)

Toronto hosts Minnesota this weekend and New York hosts Cleveland at Yankee Stadium.

The Orioles have 16 games remaining, nine on the road and seven at home. They play at Boston for three and Philadelphia for three this trip. Then they return home for four with Texas and three against Boston. They end the year with three at Rogers Centre in Toronto Oct. 1-3.

Lefty Keegan Akin (2-9, 6.83 ERA) will make his 23rd appearance and 16th start in the series opener. For the year, over 85 2/3 innings, he has allowed 99 hits and 16 homers with 36 walks and 76 strikeouts. He has logged 1.576 WHIP while allowing 10.4 hits per nine with 3.8 walks and 8.0 strikeouts.

The Orioles are 4-11 in his starts, but have gone 3-1 in the last four. In those four games, Akin has pitched to a 3.68 ERA, allowing 11 hits over 22 innings with nine walks and 19 strikeouts. He gives up an average of .147 with a .576 OPS during this span as batters have gone 11-for-75.

Lefty batters hit .292 with an .853 OPS against Akin and right-handed batters hit .287/.847. In 13 road games, he is 1-5 with a 7.60 ERA and 1.733 WHIP.

Lefty Chris Sale (3-0, 2.52 ERA) will make his sixth start, and Boston is 4-1 in his previous outings. That includes his return to the big leagues versus the Orioles on Aug. 14, when he allowed six hits and two runs over five innings. He has allowed two earned runs or fewer in each of his five games. In his last start versus Tampa Bay, Sale gave up 10 hits and five runs (one earned run) in 3 2/3 innings.

Congrats, Ryan: Cal Ripken Jr. sent congratulations via social media on his Twitter account to Ryan Mountcastle for breaking his club rookie home run record. Mountcastle’s 29 home runs are the second-most by a rookie in the majors, behind Adolis García of Texas with 30. His 29 homers are tied for the team lead with Cedric Mullins. Jay Gibbons in 2001 (15 homers) is the last Orioles rookie to tie for the team lead in home runs in a single season, while Curt Blefary in 1965 (22 homers) is the last O’s rookie to lead the club in home runs outright in a single season.

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