O’s game blog: The series opener at Yankee Stadium

After losing two of three at Toronto followed by Thursday’s off-day, the Orioles’ road trip continues tonight when they play the first of three games in the Bronx against the New York Yankees. The Orioles beat Toronto 4-2 on Tuesday night, but lost 5-4 in Wednesday’s series finale.

The Orioles (41-91) have 30 games remaining beginning tonight. They have lost five of six and 24 of their past 27 games. They are 14-43 versus American League East teams, including a record of 5-8 against the Yankees - their best mark within the division. With Wednesday’s result the Orioles are now 5-4 in rubber-match games and 8-18 in games decided by one run.

New York (77-56) is in second place in the AL East, 6 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay. But the Yankees do hold the No. 1 AL wild card spot right now. From Aug. 14-27, the Yankees won 13 games in a row, their longest winning streak since 1961. They then followed that by losing four in a row, a streak that ended with Wednesday’s 4-1 win at the Los Angeles Angels to conclude a 5-4 road trip.

So overall, New York has won 14 of 18, 21 of 28 and 26 of its last 35 games. The Yankees are 31-12 since July 17 and have won 10 of their past 12 series.

New York is 21 games over .500 and its best mark of the year was 24 games over at 76-52. They are 27-30 in AL East games and 39-25 at home.

New York has played and won a lot of close games. They have played 75 games decided by two runs or one, going 48-27 (.640) in such games, which is the best mark in the majors in the close games. And 13 of their past 19 games have been decided by two or one runs.

Means-Delivers-Gray-MIN-Sidebar.jpgO’s lefty John Means (5-6, 3.46 ERA) will get the start tonight, his 21st of the season. For the year he has a WHIP of 0.997, allowing 7.5 hits per nine with 1.8 homers allowed, 1.5 walks and 8.2 strikeouts.

Means has thrown back-to-back quality starts, allowing five runs and nine hits over 12 1/3 innings with two walks and 10 strikeouts versus Atlanta and Tampa Bay. He had given up 10 earned runs over 8 1/3 in his two previous starts before the last two.

The Orioles are 7-13 in his games this year, but have lost five in a row.

Lefty Nestor Cortes Jr. (2-2, 2.77 ERA), one-time O’s Rule 5 draft pick, gets the start for the Yankees. The team is 6-2 in his eight starts and he’s allowed two earned runs or fewer in four of his past six. In eight home games, he is 1-0 with a 1.75 ERA and 0.896 WHIP.

Outfielder Austin Hays has hit safely in nine straight games, including three multi-hit games. He is batting .400/.419/.667 (12-for-30) with five extra-base hits, seven runs scored and six RBIs in this stretch.

The Orioles had two players recognized by Minor League Baseball as Pitcher and Player of the Month for their respective leagues in August. Low Single-A Delmarva right-hander Jean Pinto was named the Low-A East Pitcher of the Month. He recorded a 1.35 ERA (4 ER/26.2 IP) in five starts while posting a 0.71 WHIP and holding opponents to a .146 batting average. He struck out 29 batters compared to six walks in the month.

Rookie-level Florida Complex League O’s Black team outfielder Mishael Deson was named the FCL Player of the Month. Deson led the league in average (.429), hits (26), and total bases (40) and was second in on-base percentage (.446), slugging percentage (.656), and OPS (1.102). He hit safely in 16 of 17 games, including a 14-game hitting streak from Aug. 2-28.

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