O’s game blog: O’s play Game No. 162

For the Orioles, the final day and game of the 2021 season has arrived. They play the Blue Jays this afternoon at Rogers Centre to conclude the year and then head into the offseason and the winter.

They have lost the first two games of this series, by 6-4 and 10-1 scores. Toronto opened a 6-0 lead Friday night before a late O’s rally. The Blue Jays hit five homers in the first five innings yesterday, opened a big early lead and won by nine runs.

The O’s have gone 3-2 in their last five regular season finales and 7-3 in their last 10. They defeated Toronto 7-5 in last year’s final game.

O’s pitching allowed four or more homers for the 14th time and five or more for the eighth time on Saturday. The season high for homers allowed is six, and that happened twice in the 2021 season. They gave up a half dozen on April 11 versus Boston and June 9 against the New York Mets. The O’s have given up at least one homer for eight consecutive games, allowing 16 in that span. They lead the majors in allowing homers for the season with 254.

O’s pitchers have allowed 16 runs in two games this weekend at Rogers Centre. They entered the series pitching well. The team ERA was 3.11 the previous 10 games heading into Friday, with the club allowing two earned runs or fewer six times. The rotation ERA was 1.96 in that 10-game span, and O’s pitchers walked 10 and fanned 40 in 46 innings. But the starters in this series - Thomas Eshelman and John Means - have allowed 10 hits and nine runs (eight earned), giving up four homers over 5 2/3 innings.

Heading into the weekend and going back a few series, Baltimore pitchers had given up seven runs in three games at Philadelphia, 17 in four games versus Texas and 10 in three games versus Boston at Oriole Park.

The Orioles (52-109), with loss No. 109 on Saturday, have now lost more games than any team in club history, save for the 2018 team that lost 115. The Orioles lost 108 games in 2019 and 107 in 1988.

On the mound today for the Orioles will be lefty Bruce Zimmermann (4-4, 4.66 ERA). He returned from the injured list to start Tuesday against Boston and threw well, allowing two hits and one run in four innings on 70 pitches. It was his first major league start since June 13. Zimmermann has allowed two earned runs or fewer in five of his 12 starts.

For the year he has a WHIP of 1.445, allowing 9.9 hits per nine innings with 1.8 homers, 3.1 walks and 7.8 strikeouts. The Orioles are 4-8 in his 12 starts. In six road starts he is 1-2 with a 5.59 ERA and 1.586 WHIP. Zimmermann has not faced the Blue Jays this year.

He has used his fastball 42 percent at an average velocity of 91.5 mph, with 25 percent changeup usage. He throws his slider 19 percent and curveball 14 percent.

Lefty Hyun Jin Ryu (13-10, 4.39 ERA) will make his 31st start. His current ERA would be a career-worst for a pitcher that led the National League in ERA in 2019 at 2.32 when he finished second in the NL Cy Young vote while with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Ryu went 5-2 with a 2.69 ERA last year and finished third in the Cy Young voting for the Blue Jays.

On Sept. 11 the lefty allowed eight hits and seven runs in 2 1/3 against the Orioles. That started a three-start stretch coming into today in which Ryu is 0-2 with a 15.58 ERA and has allowed five homers in 8 2/3 innings. In those three games, opponents have hit .422 with a 1.325 OPS against him.

Toronto has gotten very solid starting pitching this weekend. Lefty Steven Matz and right-hander Alek Manoah have combined to allow seven hits and three runs over 14 innings with two walks and 15 strikeouts.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Sulser-Plants-Orange-ST-sidebar.jpgReliever Cole Sulser has worked nine straight scoreless outings for the Orioles. His scoreless streak is tied for the sixth-longest active in the American League. Sulser has allowed an OBP of just .152 (81 plate appearances) to the middle of the order (hitters Nos. 3-5), the best among qualified relief pitchers in the majors.

Center fielder Cedric Mullins has grounded into two double plays in 95 opportunities this season (2.1 percent), the lowest percentage in the majors. Trey Mancini has grounded into 19 double plays in 106 opportunities (17.9 percent) the third-highest percentage in the majors.

Infielder Kelvin Gutiérrez has appeared in all 38 of the Orioles’ games since being recalled from Triple-A on Aug. 24. According to Statcast, his four Outs Above Average lead O’s infielders and are tied with those logged by outfielder Ryan McKenna for the second-most on the club, behind only Mullins with 11.

This article explains all the tiebreaker scenarios today for the AL wild card race.

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