Wednesday, May 31, 2023
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MLB Preview: Baltimore Orioles (29-16) at Toronto Blue Jays (25-20)


BACK IN THE WIN COLUMN: The Orioles defeated the Blue Jays last night, 6-2, in the opener of the three-game set in Toronto…Improved to 13-2 in series openers and 8-0 in series openers on the road.

Kyle Gibson earned the win after allowing one run on five hits, two walks, and a wild pitch with five strikeouts in a season-high-tying 7.0 innings (also 4/4 at TEX)…Snapped his three-game losing streak…Tossed his team-leading fifth quality start of the season.

Adley Rutschman drew a pair of walks; with his walk in the third inning, reached 100 career walks in 158 games, the fewest games to reach the mark in Orioles history (since 1954).

Anthony Santander hit a solo homer in the sixth inning and has now homered in back-to-back games for the second time this season (also 5/4-5); has homered in three straight games once in his career, from August 8-11, 2021.

WHAT’S TRENDING: The O’s have won 20 of their last 29 games, 23 of 33, and 25 of 36… The 29-16 overall record ranks second in MLB to start the season (see box at right).  Last season, the Birds did not reach 29 wins until the 66th game on June 17 (29- 37); they did not reach 30 wins until the 68th game on June 19 (30-38).

The Orioles are 91-65 since June 1, 2022, a 95-win pace; the .583 winning percentage during that time is the second-best in the AL and fourth-best in MLB, trailing the Braves (.679, 106-50), Dodgers (.673, 107-52), and Astros (.635, 99-57).

AGAINST THE BLUE JAYS: The O’s and Jays meet for the first time this season with a three-game set at Rogers Centre…The Orioles will travel to Toronto again for four games from July 31 to August 3 and will host the Jays in Baltimore for a pair of three-game sets from June 13-15 and August 22-24…The O’s went 9-10 against the Jays in \2022; the season series was not decided until game 162 on October 5 (G2).

KING IN THE NORTH: Ryan Mountcastle launched a three-run shot off Yusei Kikuchi in the third inning last night, his 10th home run of the season…Marked his sixth career home run at Rogers Centre, his most at any opposing ballpark and twice as many as the next-closest parks; has three home runs at Fenway Park (BOS), Kauffman Stadium (KC), Tropicana Field (TB), and Sahlen Field (TOR)…Marked his fourth long ball off Kikuchi, his most against any pitcher in his career…Has slashed .323/.383/.646 (53-for-164) with eight doubles, 15 homers, 27 runs scored, 36 RBI, 15 walks, and a 1.030 OPS in 43 career games against the Jays; marks his most homers, runs, RBI, extra-base hits (23), and total bases (106) against a single opponent, as well as his highest batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS against a team with at least 15 games played.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: The Orioles began a seven-day, six-game road trip last night with the first of three games in Toronto…After an off day Monday, the Orioles make their first trip to Yankee Stadium this year with three games against the Yankees from May 23-25.

LOOKING AHEAD: After the current road trip, the O’s return to Charm City for a six-game homestand with three games against the Rangers from May 26-28 and three against the Guardians from May 29-31.

WHAT A RELIEF: The Baltimore bullpen owns a 3.01 ERA (56 ER/167.2 IP), the best in MLB (see box at right)…O’s relievers have 12 wins this season, tied with Los Angeles-AL, New York-AL, and Tampa Bay for first in the AL and fourth in MLB, trailing Arizona, Cincinnati, and Miami (13)…The O’s are second in MLB with 201 strikeouts from the ‘pen, trailing Kansas City (210).

THE CANO SHOW: Yennier Cano allowed his first run of the season last night after opening the campaign with 21.2 scoreless innings over 17 appearances…Opponents are slashing .085/.097/.113 (6-for-71) against him, all of which lead MLB pitchers with at least 15 appearances…His .210 OPS against is .151 points less than the next closest pitcher (SD’s Josh Hader, .361).
Has faced 72 batters without issuing a free pass; is the only pitcher to face at least 70 batters without allowing a walk this season.

His streak of 18 straight games without a walk to start the season is the second-longest in O’s history, behind a 22-game streak by Jamie Walker to open the 2009 campaign; Cano has worked 22.2 innings while Walker only threw 12.1 during his streak.

He leads all O’s and ranks tied for 11th among all MLB pitchers with 1.8 bWAR, per Baseball Reference.

His sinker is worth -10 Run Value, the best pitch by an Oriole and tied for the sixth-best pitch in MLB, per Statcast.

His changeup has a Run Value of -4 and a 43.1 percent Whiff Rate, per Statcast; the pitch also has the second-highest Put Away percentage on the team at 35.3 percent and he has allowed just one hit with it while throwing it 98 times.

Cano’s 17-game scoreless streak to start the year was the third-longest to begin a year by an O’s pitcher in team history (since 1954), trailing Donnie Hart (18 G) in 2016 and Will Ohman (25 G) in 2010.

His streak of 17 straight games without allowing a run or a walk was tied with Toronto’s Paul Quantrill (2001) for the second-longest to start a season since at least 1901, behind a 19-game streak by Houston’s Ryan Pressly to open the 2019 campaign.

AY, TONE: Anthony Santander has homered seven times in his last 20 games after hitting just one home run through his first 22 games…He is slashing .344/.425/.688 (22-for-64) with four doubles, six home runs, 11 runs scored, 14 RBI, and seven walks in 17 May games, hitting safely in 14 of them with eight multi-hit efforts…For the month of May, he leads O’s batters in hits, home runs, RBI, total bases (44), batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS (1.112), while ranking tied for the team lead in runs (Rutschman) and extra-base hits (10 – Mountcastle, Mullins).

2-1, 6.57 ERA

QUICK HITS: Slated to make his ninth start of the season, fifth on the road, and first career start against the Blue Jays this afternoon…Worked 5.0 shutout innings on April 23 vs. Detroit and April 29 at Detroit to become the youngest O’s pitcher (23-164) to toss 5.0-or-more scoreless innings in back-to-back games since Dave Ford (21-259) from September 2-14, 1978, and the youngest O’s starter to accomplish the feat since Jack Fisher (21-188) did so in three straight starts from August 29 to September 8, 1960…Made his MLB debut on April 5 at Texas, becoming the first Oriole to make his debut this season…Thirteen players (7 pitchers) made their debut for the O’s in 2022…Also became the first O’s pitcher to start his Major League debut since DL Hall on August 13, 2022, and the youngest O’s pitcher (23-140) to start his debut since Kevin Gausman (22-137) on May 23, 2013 at Toronto…Had his contract selected to the 40-man roster on November 15, 2022…Originally selected by the Orioles in the first round (No. 11 overall) of the 2018 First-Year Player Draft.

LAST TIME OUT: Suffered his first career loss in first career start vs. the Angels on May 15 at Oriole Park…Allowed eight runs on nine hits (2 HR), both career highs, with three walks and three strikeouts in 3.1 innings, the shortest outing of his career…Exited with a runner on fi rst base who later scored…Threw 79 pitches, 47 strikes.

PACKING A PUNCH: Rodriguez’s 44 strikeouts through his first eight career starts are the most by an O’s hurler in his first eight games in franchise history (since 1954)…Recorded a career-high nine punchouts on April 29 (G2) at Detroit, becoming the youngest O’s pitcher (23-164) to record nine-or-more strikeouts in a start since John Parrish (22-241) also fanned nine batters on July 24, 2000 vs. New York-AL…Entering today’s games, he ranks among rookie leaders (min. 25.0 IP) in K/9 (2nd, 10.70), strikeouts (3rd, 44), and innings pitched (7th, 37.0).

AGAINST THE BLUE JAYS/AL EAST: Making his first career start against the Blue Jays and second career start against the AL East today…Earned the win in his only start against the division on May 9 vs. Tampa Bay after allowing two runs on seven hits (2 HR) with two walks and four strikeouts in a career-high 5.2 innings…Worked into the sixth inning for the first time in his career…Threw a career-high 101 pitches, 59 strikes.

ROAD TRIPPIN’: Making his fifth career road start this afternoon…Owns a 1-0 record with a 5.79 ERA (12 ER/18.2 IP) and 25 strikeouts through his first four career starts away from Oriole Park…Did not factor into the decision in his last road start on May 4 at Kansas City, allowing six runs on eight hits (3 HR) with one walk and three strikeouts in 3.2 innings of work…Threw 77 pitches, 47 strikes.


THE LATEST: The Blue Jays dropped the opener of their three-game series with the Orioles by a score of 6-2 last night…Are now 9-6 in series openers for the year (5-2 at home). Toronto has still won seven of its last 13 games and 13 of its last 24…Needs a win today to avoid its 2nd home series loss (5-1-0 at home so far)…Have not lost two series in a row this season.

ONE NOTCH AT A TIME: Brandon Belt doubled to right field in the 2nd inning last night…Was his 9th two-bagger this season, equaling his mark from 2022 in 47 fewer games…Over his last 13 contests, has batted .417 (15-for-36) with five doubles, a homer, four RBI, and eight walks (.533 OBP, .639 SLG)…His .385 AVG for the month of May is 5th best among AL hitters while his 1.090 OPS ranks 6th (min. 40 PA).

OVER AND OUTLAW: Kevin Kiermaier singled and scored as part of a 1-for-4 evening…Is now batting .325 (38-for-117) for the year with nine doubles, two triples, three home runs, and 13 RBI (.896 OPS)…His .409 (18-for-44) average and his 1.162 OPS for the month of May are both 3rd best among AL hitters…His 34 hits while batting 9th are the most in the Majors (2nd: Michael A. Taylor – 23).

DANNY DIGGING IN: Danny Jansen drove in Toronto’s 1st run last night with a 2nd-inning single…Added another single in the 9th to finish 2-for-4 for his 5th multi-hit effort of the year…Has gone 10-for-35 (.286) with three doubles, a homer, and nine RBI in his last nine games.

VLAD HABITS: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. returned to the starting lineup last night for the first time since May 16…Singled for a 1-for-4 night…Is 50-for-161 for the season with 11 doubles, seven homers, and 27 RBI for a .311 AVG (4th in the AL), an .890 OPS (9th), and a .380 OBP (10th)…His 50 hits are tied for 7th most in the AL… Has also recorded an AL-best 77 hard-hit balls (95+ MPH) this season, one ahead of teammate Bo Bichette (76).

DOING IT ALL: Bo Bichette drove in Toronto’s final run last night and has now gone 61-for-190 (.328) with 10 doubles, nine homers, and 30 RBI while playing in all 45 games this season…The .321 batting average trails only Yandy Díaz (.321) by points for the best in the AL…Leads all MLB hitters with 61 hits (2nd: Ronald Acuña Jr./Luis Arraez – 59) and leads the AL with 98 total bases (2nd: Rafael Devers – 97)…Among AL hitters, is also 11th in OPS (.880) and 13th in SLG (.516). The 26-year-old currently leads the team in hits, home runs, and RBI – a feat which has been accomplished by six other players in team history (last: Randal Grichuk in 2019).

THE D-JAYS: According to Sports Info Solutions, Toronto fielders have recorded a total of 33 Defensive Runs Saved to lead all MLB teams (2nd: MIL – 27)…The group is led by an MLB-high 12 runs saved in center field – eight from Kevin Kiermaier and four from Daulton Varsho.

AT DOME FOR DAYS: The Blue Jays are on a 10-day, 10-game homestand (4-4 so far)…Have gone 13-7 this season at Rogers Centre, tied for the 6th-best record through 20 home contests in team history…The .650 win% at home is 3rd best in the AL (TB – .870, BAL – .652)…After completing this weekend series with the Orioles, will head out on a seven-game road trip to Tampa Bay (33-13) and Minnesota (24-21). Toronto batters rank 5th in the AL in home AVG (.258), while sitting 6th in home OBP (.331), 8th in home OPS (.718), and 10th in home SLG (.387)…The pitching staff ranks 2nd among AL teams with a 3.03 home ERA (TB – 2.41), 2nd in home opponents’ average (.195), and 2nd in home WHIP (1.12).

WEEKEND WARRIORS: The Blue Jays swept the Braves last weekend and swept the Pirates the weekend prior…Dating back to last September, have won each of their last 10 series that began on a Friday, the longest such streak in team history (2nd: nine straight from Aug. 2021-May 2022)…courtesy Stats Perform.

QUITE A STRETCH: The Blue Jays are in the midst of playing 17 games in 17 days, their most consecutive days with scheduled games this season…Have gone 4-4 so far…Their opponents over this 17-game stretch (ATL, NYY, BAL, TB, MIN) have a combined record of 141-86 (.621).

PLAYING THE HITS: The Blue Jays have notched 398 hits so far this season, 5th most in the AL…Are also 5th in the AL in team AVG (.256), 6th in OBP (.328), 6th in OPS (.733), and 8th in SLG (.405). The Blue Jays are one of two AL teams who have scored in every game this season (also: LAA)…Have gone 63 straight games without being shut out, the 2nd-longest active streak in the Majors (LAA – 87G).

DIVISIONAL DETAILS: The Blue Jays have now gone 5-10 against divisional opponents this season…Have still won 28 of their last 48 games vs. AL East foes, dating back to Aug. 17, 2022…Went 43-33 (.566%) in divisional play in 2022, the 2nd-best winning percentage within the division (NYY – .618) and the club’s best since registering a .581 win% in 2006 (43-31).

VS. THE ORIOLES: All-Time: 384-322
2023: 0-1 Home: 213-142
Home: 0-1 Rogers Centre: 164-104

The Blue Jays went 10-9 against the Orioles last season while splitting the 10 contests here at Rogers Centre…Have claimed each season series since 2018, going 57-30 since then…Their .655 win% vs. BAL over that span is their 2nd best vs. an AL opponent (.719 vs. KC).

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit .329 (25-for-76) with two doubles, six home runs, and 12 RBI in his 18 games played against the O’s last season (.985 OPS)…In 64 career meetings, is 87-for-262 (.332) with 13 doubles, 22 homers, and 53 RBI (1.017 OPS).

Bo Bichette kept a .315 (23-for-73) batting average in 18 games vs. Baltimore last year, including two doubles, six home runs, and 15 RBI (.940 OPS)…The team has gone 30-17 during his 47 career games against them while he has batted .320 (62-for-194) with 12 doubles, 10 homers, and 35 RBI (.901 OPS).

Matt Chapman picked up 15 hits in 16 games against the Orioles last year, including seven extra-base hits and 12 RBI (.571 SLG)…Is a lifetime .262 (39-for-149) hitter across 43 meetings with 12 doubles, seven home runs, and 24 RBI (.838 OPS).

Making his 10th start of the season and his 5th at Rogers Centre…Lasted 4.0+ innings his last time out, on 5/15 vs. NYY, surrendering 5 runs on 6 hits…Struck out a trio of batters while issuing a career-high 7 walks. Since entering the league in 2021, has held opposing righthanded hitters to a .175 AVG, trailing only Cristian Javier (.158) for the best mark among qualified hurlers.

Gave up 3 runs on 4 hits and 4 walks over 4.2 frames with a strikeout on 5/9 at PHI. Took the loss on 5/3 at BOS, giving up 5R/2ER over 5.0 innings with 8 hits, a walk, and 3 strikeouts on a season-high 103 pitches (63 strikes). Landed a no-decision on 4/28 vs. SEA, giving up 2 runs on 6 hits and 4 walks over 5.0 frames with a season-high 7 strikeouts. Threw 7.0 shutout frames on 4/22 at NYY, scattering just 2 hits and a walk with 5 strikeouts…Was his 2nd outing with 7.0 scoreless innings this season (also: 4/5 at KC). Took the loss on 4/16 vs. TB, tossing 4.2 innings and allowing a career-high 7 earned runs on 9 hits and 4 walks with 5 punchouts…Threw 101 pitches (61 strikes), eclipsing the century mark for the 1st time this year. Took a no-decision in the team’s Home Opener on 4/11 vs. DET, giving up 3 runs on 4 hits and 5 walks over 4.1 innings with 3 strikeouts…Became the 5th pitcher in team history to pitch the club’s Season Opener and then their Home Opener, joining Jim Clancy (1981), Jimmy Key (1989), Marcus Stroman (2016), and Hyun Jin Ryu (2020). Earned his 1st win of the year on 4/5 at KC, tossing 7.0 frames of one-hit, shutout ball with four walks and five strikeouts. Was the Opening Day starter for the Blue Jays on 3/30 at STL…Took a no-decision that day, giving up 5 runs on a career-high 9 hits and 2 walks over 3.1 innings with 3 strikeouts… At 25 years and 80 days old, became the 4th-youngest Opening Day starter in team history (Drew Hutchison – 24.227 in 2015; Todd Stottlemyre – 24.324 in 1990; Marcus Stroman 24.338 in 2016).

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