Friday, June 2, 2023
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MLB Preview: Baltimore Orioles (30-16) at Toronto Blue Jays (25-21)

BALTIMORE ORIOLES NOTES:

YESTERDAY’S NEWS: The Orioles defeated the Blue Jays yesterday, 6-5 in 10 innings, in the second game of the three-game set in Toronto…Clinched their 11th series victory and sixth on the road…Improved to 3-2 in series against AL East opponents and have won three series in a row against division rivals…The O’s rallied from a 5-2 deficit after seven innings to collect their 17th comeback victory of the season, the most in the majors (see box at right).

Grayson Rodriguez did not factor in the decision after allowing two runs on four hits (1 HR) with one walk and six strikeouts in 5.0 innings; reached 50 career strikeouts, the most by an Orioles pitcher in his first nine career games (since 1954).

Ryan O’Hearn hit a game-tying, three-run home run in the eighth inning off Jordan Romano; marked his fourth career game-tying or go-ahead home run in the eighth-inning-or-later and first since hitting a walk-off, solo homer on September 3, 2019 vs. Detroit with the Royals…Also singled in the second and seventh innings to collect his first three-hit game of the year, and tallied a career-high-tying four RBI for the third time and first since May 7, 2019 at Houston with the Royals.

Cedric Mullins slugged his seventh homer of the season in the third inning off Alek Manoah; entering today’s games, Mullins is tied for fifth in the AL and seventh in MLB with 35 RBI.

SEEKING A SWEEP: The O’s are looking to clinch their third sweep of the season with a win in today’s series finale…Would be their first since sweeping the Tigers in three games at Oriole Park from April 21-23, first on the road since sweeping the Nationals in two games at Nationals Park from April 18-19, and first three-game sweep on the road since August 1-3, 2022 at Texas…Would be their first sweep of an AL East opponent since taking two games against the Blue Jays at Oriole Park from August 8-9, 2022, and first three-game sweep against the division since sweeping the Red Sox at Fenway Park from April 2-4, 2021…Would be their first sweep of at least three games against Toronto since August 27-29, 2018 at Oriole Park and first road sweep of the Jays since sweeping a three-game set at Rogers Centre from April 22-24, 2005.

WHAT’S TRENDING: The O’s have won 21 of their last 30 games, 24 of 34, and 26 of 37… The 30-16 overall record ranks second in MLB to start the season (see box at right)… The Rays (34-13) are the only other team with 30 wins this season.

Last season, the Birds did not reach 30 wins until the 68th game on June 19 (30- 38); they did not reach 31 wins until the 70th game on June 22 (31-39).

The Orioles are 92-65 since June 1, 2022, a 95-win pace; the .586 winning percentage during that time is the second-best in the AL and fourth-best in MLB, trailing the Braves (.675, 106-51), Dodgers (.669, 107-53), and Astros (.637, 100-57).

AGAINST THE BLUE JAYS: The O’s and Jays wrap up a three-game set at Rogers Centre this afternoon, the first meeting between the two teams this season…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 has slashed .315/.378/.631 (53-for-168) with eight doubles, 15 homers, 29 runs scored, 36 RBI, 15 walks, and a 1.009 OPS in 44 career games against the Blue 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…Has six career home runs 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).

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: The Orioles are on a seven-day, six-game road trip…After finishing up a three-game set in Toronto this afternoon, the O’s have a scheduled off day tomorrow before making their first trip to the Bronx 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 3.08 ERA (59 ER/172.2 IP), third-best in MLB behind the Yankees (2.94) and Astros (3.01)…O’s relievers have 13 wins this season, tied with Cincinnati and New York-AL for third in MLB, trailing Arizona and Miami (14)…The O’s are second in MLB with 209 strikeouts from the ‘pen, trailing Kansas City (214).

THE CANO SHOW: Yennier Cano has allowed one earned run in 23.2 innings (0.38 ERA); opened the year with 21.2 scoreless innings over 17 appearances…Opponents are slashing .095/.107/.122 (7-for-74) against him, all of which lead MLB pitchers with at least 15 appearances…His .228 OPS against is .116 points less than the next closest pitcher (CIN’s Alexis Díaz, .344).

Has faced 75 batters without issuing a free pass; is the only pitcher to face at least 70 batters without allowing a walk this season and one of two with at least 50 batters faced and no walks allowed, along with Philadelphia’s José Alvarado (52 batters faced).

His streak of 19 straight games without a walk to start the season is the second-longest in O’s history, behind a 22-game streak by Jamie W Walker to open the 2009 campaign; Cano has worked 23.2 innings while Walker only threw 12.1 during his streak.

He leads all O’s and ranks tied for seventh among all MLB pitchers with 1.9 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.

ROSTER MOVES: The Orioles today reinstated right-handed pitcher Mychal Givens from the 15-day Injured List (left knee inflammation)…In a corresponding move, lefthanded pitcher Cole Irvin was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk.

TODAY’S STARTING PITCHER – #64 DEAN KREMER RHP
QUICK HITS: Slated to make his 10th start of the season, fifth on the road, and eighth career appearance (seventh start) against the Blue Jays today…Made a career-high 22 appearances (21 GS) in 2022, 11 appearances at home (10 GS), and 11 on the road…Owned an 8-7 record with a 3.23 ERA (45 ER/125.1 IP) and 87 strikeouts…Made six starts of 5.0-or-more scoreless innings, tied for seventh-most in the AL…Acquired by the Orioles along with INF Breyvic Valera, OF Yusniel Diaz, RHP Zach Pop, and INF Rylan Bannon in exchange for INF Manny Machado on July 18, 2018…Originally selected by the Dodgers in the 14th round of the 2016 First-Year Player Draft out of UNLV.

LAST TIME OUT: Earned his fifth win of the season in his last start vs. the Angels on April 16 at Oriole Park…Allowed three runs on six hits (1 HR) with four strikeouts and one wild pitch in 5.2 innings of work…Has won three straight starts for the first time in his career…Threw 95 pitches, 63 strikes

AGAINST THE BLUE JAYS: Making his eighth career appearance (seventh start) against the Blue Jays this afternoon…Dealt the loss in his last start vs. Toronto on October 3, 2022 after surrendering four runs (3 ER) on six hits (1 HR) with one walk and four strikeouts in 6.0 innings of work…Threw 82 pitches, 56 strikes…Owns a 1-3 record with a 5.77 ERA (22 ER/34.1 IP) and three quality starts through his first seven career outings (six starts) against the Blue Jays but pitched to a 1-2 record and a 3.38 ERA (9 ER/24.0 IP) in four appearances (three starts) in 2022, including two quality starts.

AGAINST THE AL EAST: Making his 27th career appearance (26th start) against the AL East…Owns a 4-11 record with a 5.65 ERA (78 ER/124.1 IP) and six quality starts through his first 26 outings against division foes…Earned the win in his last start against the AL East on May 10 vs. Tampa Bay after working 6.0 scoreless innings on four hits with two walks and four strikeouts…Marked his third quality start of the season…Threw 95 pitches, 60 strikes…Owns a 2-0 record with a 5.95 ERA (13 ER/19.2 IP) in four starts against the division this season.

LIFE ON THE ROAD: Has gone 2-1 with a 4.79 ERA (11 ER/20.2 IP) in four road starts this season…Earned the win in his last start away from Oriole Park on May 5 at Atlanta after allowing one run on six hits with two walks and three strikeouts in 6.0 innings of work…Threw 93 pitches, 55 strikes…Owns a 7-9 record with a 4.99 ERA (63 ER/113.2 IP) through his first 23 career road starts.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS NOTES:

THE LATEST: The Blue Jays surrendered three runs in the 8th inning yesterday and one more in the 10th as they were edged, 6-5, by the Orioles…Fell to 7-5 in one-run games and are now 4-3 in extra-inning affairs. Toronto has dropped five of its last six contests but has still won seven of its last 14 games and 13 of its last 25…Has lost consecutive series for the 1st time this season…Needs a win today to avoid its 3rd sweep of the campaign.

SPRINGER HAS SPRUNG: George Springer tied yesterday’s game at 2’s with a two-run homer to left in the 5th inning…Was his 6th longball of the season…The blast was his 184th career home run while batting 1st, now one back of Ian Kinsler for 4th most in MLB history. The outfielder has extra-base hits in consecutive games for the 1st time this season…Also drove in a run with an infield single in the 7th, finishing the day 2-for-4 with three RBI, his 9th multi-hit effort of the year…Has gone 11-for-36 (.306) with a double, two home runs, and six RBI, and four walks on this homestand (.875 OPS).

JANO’S JOLT: Danny hit a solo blast to left field in the 6th inning yesterday to put Toronto in front, 3-2…Marked his 5th homer of the season and 2nd in the last four days… Has extended his hitting streak to a career-long seven games (6G streak, 3x), going 9-for-30 (.300) with two doubles, two home runs, and eight RBI (.889 OPS).

WORKING DOUBLE TIME: Matt Chapman doubled off the right-field wall in the 4th inning yesterday…Leads all MLB hitters with 19 doubles this season (2nd: Freddie Freeman – 17)… Among AL batters, ranks 3rd in extra-base hits (24), T-6th in hits (51), 9th in AVG (.300), 9th in OPS (.880), and 10th in OBP (.380). The third baseman also continues to lead all MLB hitters in hard-hit percentage (62.7) this season (2nd: Aaron Judge – 61.1) while 3rd in barrel rate (14.6%), 5th in hard-hit balls (74) and 7th in average exit velocity (94.2 MPH).

OKK, BLUE JAY: Kevin Kiermaier went 1-for-4 on a single yesterday… Extended his hitting streak to six games, going 10-for-20 (.500) with three doubles and a home run over that span…Is now batting .322 (39-for-121) for the year with nine doubles, two triples, three home runs, and 13 RBI (.883 OPS)…His .396 (19-for-48) average for the month of May is the best among qualified AL hitters (2nd: Riley Greene – .390)…His 35 hits while batting 9th are the most in the Majors (2nd: Michael A. Taylor – 23).

ALL GAUS, NO BRAKES: Kevin Gausman gets the ball today, coming in with an AL-high 77 strikeouts (2nd: Shohei Ohtani – 71), which is also the most ever by a Blue Jay in his first nine games of a season (2nd: Roger Clemens – 69 in 1997)…Also ranks 1st in the AL with a 12.60 K/9 and a 34.7% K rate…Has recorded double-digit strikeouts on four occasions this season, the most in the Majors.

AT DOME FOR DAYS: The Blue Jays are on a 10-day, 10-game homestand (4-5 so far)…Have gone 13-8 this season at Rogers Centre…The .619 win% at home is 5th best in the AL… After today’s match, will head out on a seven-game road trip with four games in Tampa Bay (34-13) and three more in Minnesota (25-21). Toronto batters rank 5th in the AL in home AVG (.257), while sitting 6th in home OBP (.329), 8th in home OPS (.720), and 10th in home SLG (.391)…The pitching staff ranks 2nd among AL teams with a 3.11 home ERA (TB – 2.48), 2nd in home opponents’ average (.200), and 2nd in home WHIP (1.13).

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 4-5 so far…Their opponents over this 17-game stretch (ATL, NYY, BAL, TB, MIN) have a combined record of 145-87 (.625).

PLAYING THE HITS: The Blue Jays have notched 408 hits so far this season, 5th most in the AL…Are also 5th in the AL in team AVG (.256), 6th in OBP (.327), 6th in OPS (.733), and 8th in SLG (.406). The Blue Jays are one of two AL teams who have scored in every game this season (also: LAA)…Have gone 64 straight games without being shut out, the 2nd-longest active streak in the Majors (LAA – 88G).

THE D-JAYS: According to Sports Info Solutions, Toronto fielders have recorded a total of 36 Defensive Runs Saved to lead all MLB teams (2nd: MIL – 27)…The group is led by an MLB-high 13 runs saved in center field – nine from Kevin Kiermaier and four from Daulton Varsho.

DIVISIONAL DETAILS: The Blue Jays have now gone 5-11 against divisional opponents this season…Have still won 28 of their last 49 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: 384-321
2023: 0-2 Home: 213-143
Home: 0-2 Rogers Centre: 164-105
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 57-31 since then…Their .648 win% vs. BAL over that span is their 2nd best vs. an AL opponent (.719 vs. KC)…Have not been swept by the O’s since Aug. 27-29, 2018, and were last swept by them at home from April 22-24, 2005.

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 65 career meetings, is 87-for-266 (.327) with 13 doubles, 22 homers, and 53 RBI (1.004 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 30-18 during his 48 career games against them while he has batted .312 (62-for-199) with 12 doubles, 10 homers, and 35 RBI (.879 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 .260 (40-for-154) hitter across 44 meetings with 13 doubles, seven home runs, and 24 RBI (.831 OPS).

STARTING PITCHER – Kevin Gausman, RHP #34
TODAY’S GAME:
Making his 10th start of the season and his 4th at Rogers Centre…Gave up 3R/2ER runs his last time out on 5/16 vs. NYY, surrendering 5 hits and 2 walks over 7.0 innings with 10 strikeouts on 102 pitches (63 strikes)… Has recorded a quality start in 7 of his 9 outings this year…Has racked up double-digit punchouts on 4 occasions this season, more than any other MLB pitcher. His 77 strikeouts are the most ever by a Blue Jay in their first nine outings of a season (2nd: Roger Clemens – 69 in 1997), and are the most in the AL in 2023 (2nd: Shohei Ohtani – 71K). Owns a 2.76 FIP since the start of the 2020 season, the 2nd-best mark among qualified hurlers (Corbin Burnes – 2.62).

2023 HIGHLIGHTS:
Tossed 6.0 shutout innings on 5/10 at PHI, giving up 3 hits with no walks and 9 strikeouts…Was his 6th quality start of the year, and his 5th outing with no earned runs. Tossed 7.0 shutout innings on 4/29 vs. SEA, giving up 5 hits with a walk and a career-high 13 strikeouts…Threw a season-high 108 pitches (74 strikes) while inducing a career-high 28 swing-and-misses…Got 20 whiffs on his splitter alone, the most on a single pitch in the Majors this season, and the most on a splitter in the pitch-tracking era (since 2008). Earned his 2nd win of the year on 4/23 at NYY, hurling 7.0 shutout frames with 3 hits, no walks, and a season-high-tying 11 strikeouts. Gave up a career-high-tying 8 runs (7ER) over 4.2 innings on 4/17 at HOU (7H, 2BB, 5K). Took a no-decision on 4/12 vs. DET, giving up 3 runs on 5 hits over a season-high 8.0 innings with no walks and 11 strikeouts, his most as a Blue Jay…Surrendered a solo home run to Nick Maton with one out in the 4th inning, ending his streak of 15.1 innings without allowing an earned run, the longest stretch to begin a season in franchise history (2nd: Matt Shoemaker – 14.0 IP in 2019). Picked up his 1st win of the year on 4/6 at KC, throwing 6.0 shutout frames \with 4 hits, 2 walks, and 7 strikeouts…Didn’t allowed an earned run for a 2nd straight outing to begin the season. Took the loss in his season debut on 4/1 at STL, giving up 3 runs (all unearned) on 8 hits and a walk over 6.0 innings with 7 strikeouts.

Mikey Balhan Sports

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