O’s game blog: Orioles look for two in a row over Red Sox

After a night where their pitching shut down the Boston Red Sox, holding one of baseball’s best offenses to two runs on 3-for-30 hitting, the Orioles look for another win tonight at home versus their American League East rival.

The O’s 4-2 win last night snapped a six-game losing streak against Boston. The Orioles began the year sweeping three games in Boston in April and then lost 12 of the next 13 between the teams before taking Tuesday’s series opener.

The Orioles (51-106) improved to 26-53 at home, ensuring this club would not finish tied for the fewest home wins by an O’s club ever. The 2019 team went 25-56 at Oriole Park. This club is now 3-2 on this homestand and 4-4 over the past eight games overall, home and road. They are 10-16 in September, 18-33 in series-opening games and improved to 19-66 when their opponent scores first.

Boston’s offense began this series leading the majors in doubles and extra-base hits and was fourth in runs per game at 5.15. The Red Sox rated second in the majors in slugging (.450) and third in OPS (.778). Boston was 27-7 its last 34 games in Baltimore before this loss.

The AL wild card race tightened a bit more as New York beat Toronto 7-2 and Seattle beat Oakland 4-2 for its 11th straight win over the Athletics.

The Yankees (90-67) have won seven in a row to open a two-game lead for the No. 1 AL wild card berth. Boston still holds the No. 2 spot but just by a half-game ahead of Seattle and one game over Toronto. Three teams separated by just one game with four games left for the Mariners and five each remaining for Boston and Toronto. Seattle last reached the playoffs in 2001.

Boston (88-69) has now lost four in a row, scoring 11 runs in those games. The Red Sox are 39-37 in road games, 13-10 this month and 40-34 versus AL East teams. The Red Sox made two errors last night, snapping a streak of eight consecutive errorless games.

O’s pitching has now allowed just 26 runs over the last eight games with a team ERA of 3.14 in that span. They’ve allowed three runs or less in five of the eight games, going 4-1.

Baltimore starting pitchers have an ERA of 2.06 over the last eight games, allowing one earned run or less six times. In this stretch, they have thrown 35 innings allowing 27 hits and eight runs with eight walks and 34 strikeouts.

Last night, lefty Bruce Zimmermann allowed two hits and one run over four innings in his first major league start since June 13. Relievers Marcos Diplán, Joey Krehbiel and Cole Sulser combined to throw five innings and gave up just one run and hit as Boston batters went 1-for-16 versus that ‘pen. Krehbiel pitched the seventh and eighth innings, needing just 12 pitches to record six outs. Sulser recorded his eighth save.

Ryan Mountcastle’s two-run homer off a Chris Sale changeup in the last of the sixth tied the game 2-2 and started the O’s three-run rally. Mountcastle leads all major league rookies in homers and hit his seventh in his last 19 games. His 18 homers in 55 games since the All-Star break also lead major league rookies.

The Orioles continue to play a lot of close games. Over their last 27 games, 16 have been decided by one or two runs and the Orioles are 8-8 in those games.

Lowther-Delivers-White-Sidebar.jpgOn the mound tonight for Baltimore will be lefty Zac Lowther (1-2, 7.66 ERA), who is making his sixth start. Lowther threw five scoreless innings on three hits in his last outing versus Texas. But in two starts this year against Boston, he is 0-1 with a 15.88 ERA, allowing 10 runs over 5 2/3 innings.

In two September starts against Kansas City and Texas, Lowther has an ERA of 0.82, yielding six hits and one run over 11 innings. But in two starts this month against Toronto and Boston, he has given up nine hits and 10 runs in 5 1/3 innings for an ERA of 16.88.

Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (10-9, 3.88 ERA) will make his 32nd start for Boston and the Red Sox are 18-13 in the first 31. Two starts ago, he faced the Orioles and gave up three runs over five innings. But in his last start against the Yankees, he allowed seven runs in 2 2/3 innings to tie a season high for runs allowed.

Eovaldi is 1-4 with a 4.19 ERA and 1.164 WHIP in 13 second-half starts. In two starts this season against the Orioles, he is 0-1 with a 3.48 ERA, allowing four runs in 10 1/3 innings with two walks, 12 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.258.

Sulser earned his eighth save in his 11th opportunity last night. He’s worked eight straight scoreless outings, covering 10 innings. Sulser has allowed an OBP of just .156 to middle-of-the-order (third through fifth hitters), the best among qualified relief pitchers in the majors.

Outfielder Cedric Mullins was named the Most Valuable Oriole award winner earlier today. Mullins was voted the unanimous winner by members of the broadcast crew and local media who cover the team on a regular basis. According to Orioles records, he was the first unanimous winner since voting totals were saved in 1998 and became the 46th different player to win the award in club history. His 5.6 fWAR, according to FanGraphs.com, is the fourth-highest in the AL.

Mullins is the 12th player in major league history to record at least 30 home runs, 35 doubles, five triples, and 30 steals in a season, and the first since Mookie Betts in 2018.

Mullins talked about his award and season in this entry.

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