Thursday, June 13, 2024
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MLB Preview: Baltimore Orioles (94-56) at Houston Astros (84-67)


COMEBACK KIDS: The Orioles beat the Astros last night, 8-7, rallying for a second straight day…Cedric Mullins hit a go-ahead three-run homer in the ninth inning to complete the comeback…Ryan O’Hearn notched a career-high five hits while Gunnar Henderson had three hits, including a triple, and scored three runs, matching a career best…John Means surrendered one run over 5.0 innings in his second MLB start since returning from the IL. Seven of Mullins’ 15 home runs this season, including each of his last three, have either tied the game or put the O’s in the lead. At 30 years, 54 days old, O’Hearn became the oldest O’s batter with five hits in a game since Matt Weiters (30-085) on August 14, 2016 at San Francisco and the oldest left-hander to do so since B.J. Surhoff (35-329) on June 28, 2000 at Boston, though all of the switch-hitting Weiters’ at-bats came from the left side; the Orioles now have four five-hit games this year (Hays, Mullins, O’Hearn, & Rutschman), tying the Red Sox for the most such games in MLB. Baltimore now leads MLB with 48 comeback wins this year and the 84 come-frombehind victories since the start of last year are second-most in MLB behind the Dodgers (85); entering September 5 at Los Angeles-AL, the O’s were 0-41 when trailing after eight innings but have three such victories since, including back-toback days. Mike Baumann improved to 10-1, becoming the 10th reliever in team history (since 1954) and first since Brad Brach in 2016 to win 10 games; only two previous O’s relievers have won more than 10 games – Stu Miller (14) and Dick Hall (11) in 1965. The Orioles tied a season high by using 20 different players for the second straight day and third time this year (also: 9/5 at LAA), the most since the start of 2022.

SOMETHING IN THE ORANGE: The O’s have won 11 of their last 16 games, 13 of 20, 17 of 25, 20 of 29, 23 of 34, and 28 of 42…The Birds have won or split their last eight series, nine of 12 series, and 12 of 16 series…At 94-56 (.627), the Orioles have the best record in the AL and second-best in MLB (see box at right)…The Birds are 46-24 (.657) since the start of July, the best record in the AL and the second-best mark in MLB during that time, behind only the Dodgers at 46-22 (.676)…The team is 156-105 (.598) since June 2022, the second-best record in the AL and fourth-best in MLB during that time. The Orioles hold a 2.5-game lead over the Rays in the AL East and have clinched the season series tiebreaker against Tampa Bay.

SWEEPLESS IN BALTIMORE: With tonight’s game, the Orioles will have gone 88 consecutive series of at least two decisions (no ties) without being swept…According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that is the fourth-longest streak in MLB history, trailing the 1942-44 St. Louis Cardinals (124), 1906-09 Chicago Cubs (115), and 1903-05 New York Giants (105)…Baltimore’s current streak is the longest in O’s history, ahead of 46 consecutive sweepless series from 1971-72…The Birds have not been swept in a series of at least two games since May 13-15, 2022 at Detroit (0-3), and not at home in a series of at least two games since August 27-29, 2021 vs. Tampa Bay (0-3).

STATING HIS CASE: Gunnar Henderson leads MLB rookies with 6.0 bWAR, 27 home runs, and 62 extra-base hits, is tied for the lead among MLB rookies with nine triples, and leads AL rookies with 4.5 fWAR, 94 runs, 79 RBI, 260 total bases, and nine game-winning RBI, while ranking among AL rookie leaders in hits (2nd, 135), doubles (2nd, 26), and walks (4th, 51)… According to STATS, he leads MLB rookies with a .503 slugging percentage while ranking among qualified AL rookies in OPS (2nd, .832) and on-base percentage (3rd, .329). His 6.0 bWAR and .503 slugging percentage would be the best single-season marks by a rookie in O’s history; Henderson ranks among rookie leaders in team history in several offensive categories (see box at right). Henderson leads the team with 94 runs scored this season, the most in a rookie season in club history; only three previous rookies have led the O’s in runs – Cal Ripken, Jr. (1982, 90), Willie Tasby (1959, 69), and Tito Francona (1956, 62). He’s the third rookie in O’s history to record 25+ doubles and 25+ home runs, joining Cal Ripken, Jr. (1982) and Eddie Murray (1977), who both won AL Rookie of the Year; Henderson’s 27 homers are tied with Murray for the third-most by a rookie in a season in O’s history, behind only Ripken, Jr. (28) and Ryan Mountcastle (33 in 2021). He is one stolen base shy of becoming the first rookie in team history with 20+ doubles, 5+ triples, 20+ homers, and 10+ stolen bases; he would be the 20th rookie in MLB history with such a stat line, joining Arizona’s Corbin Carroll this year, and the first in the AL since Kansas City’s Bobby Witt Jr. last season. He leads the O’s with 14 Defensive Runs Saved, per Sports Info Solutions; 10 of those are at shortstop, tied for sixth in MLB despite playing over 300 fewer innings at the position than anyone ahead of him. Henderson leads MLB with five runner runs, a metric designed to evaluate the performance of runners taking extra bases, per Statcast.

STRIKE A POSE: Orioles pitching has struck out 1,328 batters this year, surpassing the 2016 and 2019 clubs (1,248) for the most in a single season in team history…The team broke the record on September 6. Starting pitchers have struck out 755 batters this year, surpassing the 1968 rotation (747) for the most in a single season in team history. Relievers have fanned 573 hitters in 2023, fourth-most in one year in O’s history; the 2021 club holds the record with 637 punchouts from relievers.

O THE PLACES YOU’LL GO: The Orioles began their final road trip of the season last night in Houston…After two more games against the Astros, Baltimore travels to Cleveland for a four-game set against the Guardians beginning on Thursday. Baltimore is 49-26 (.653) away from Camden Yards this season, the best road record in MLB; the .653 road winning percentage would be the best in team history (since 1954) and the sixth-best mark in a full season by an AL club since 1977, trailing only Seattle (.728, 59-22) in 2001, Houston (.704, 57-24) in 2018, Minnesota (.679, 55-26) in 2019, and Cleveland and Houston (53-28, .654) in 2017. The O’s have won 50 road games in a season two times – 52 in 1997 and 50 in 1980. The Orioles have scored 418 runs on the road this year, second-most in the AL and fourth-most in MLB; the 5.57 runs per game away from Oriole Park would be the second-highest mark on the road in O’s history (since 1954) behind 1996 (6.31).

AGAINST HOUSTON: The Orioles and Astros are meeting for the second of two series this season…The Birds dropped two of three games against the ‘Stros from August 8-10 at Camden Yards…The O’s went 4-3 against the Astros last year, including three shutouts.

BIG TIME RUTSCH: Adley Rutschman ranks fifth in the AL with 235 times on base (149 H, 84 BB, 2 HBP), the most by a primary catcher since Milwaukee’s Yasmani Grandal reached safely 240 times (126 H, 109 BB, 5 HBP) in 2019, per STATS…His times on base this are the second-most by a primary catcher in O’s history (since 1954), trailing only Javy López (236 in 2004)…The 84 walks are the second-most by an O’s catcher behind Mickey Tettleton (106 in 1990).

QUICK HITS: Scheduled to make his 31st start of the season, 18thon the road, and 14th career start against the Astros tonight…Entering play today, Gibson is one of nine MLB pitchers and three AL hurlers with at least 14 wins…His 14 victories are his most in a season in his career…Reached 10 years of Major League service time on August 9…Became the first O’s pitcher in club history (since 1954) to start and win each of his three first appearances with the team…Started a season 4-0 for the second time in his career, joining a 6-0 start with Texas in 2021; became the fifth Oriole starting pitcher since 2004 to begin a year 4-0, joining John Means (4-0 in 2021), Bud Norris (4-0 in 2013), Wei-Yin Chen (4-0 in 2012), and Erik Bedard (4-0 in 2006)…The O’s signed Gibson to a one-year contract on December 5, 2022…He has also spent time with the Twins, Phillies, and Rangers across 10 Major League seasons.

LAST TIME OUT: Suffered the loss in his last outing on September 13 vs. St. Louis… Surrendered one run on three hits (1 HR) with three walks and four strikeouts in 6.2 innings…Allowed fewer than two earned runs for the sixth time this season (last: 1, 7/31 at TOR)…Marked his 16th quality start of the season, surpassing his total from 2022 (15)…Threw a season-high-tying 104 pitches (also: 7/4 at NYY), 60 strikes.

AGAINST THE ASTROS: Making his 14th career start against Houston tonight… Last time out against the Astros with Texas on July 24, 2021 was dealt the loss… Allowed three runs (2 ER) on four hits with eight walks and four strikeouts… threw 104 pitches, 48 strikes…Has gone 4-3 with a 2.45 ERA (22 ER/80.2 IP), nine quality starts, and one complete-game shutout in 13 career assignments against the Astros.

AGAINST AL WEST: Slated to make his 65th start against the AL West…Last time out against the division on September 6 at Angel Stadium, earned his career-high 14th win of the campaign…Allowed three runs on six hits (1 HR) with two walks and three strikeouts in 6.0 innings…Gibson’s fourth-inning punchout of Matt Thaiss was the 1,249th by O’s pitching this year, setting the Baltimore franchise record for strikeouts in a season…Threw 87 pitches, 54 strikes…Owns a 22-19 record with a 4.17 ERA (171 ER/369.0 IP) with 34 quality starts in 64 career outings against the AL West.

GIB HIM HIS PROPS: Gibson completed a season-high 8.0 innings on August 24 vs. Toronto, tied for the longest outing by an O’s starter this season (also: Rodriguez on 9/16 vs. TB)…Marked his longest outing since August 5, 2022 vs. Washington with Philadelphia (8.0 IP)…Became the oldest O’s hurler (35-305) to toss 8.0 innings-or-more since Freddy García (36-236) worked 8.0 scoreless frames on May 30, 2013 vs. Toronto.

HIGH QUALITY: Gibson logged four straight quality starts from July 20 to August 5, his longest such streak of the season and longest since a four-gamer from July
27 to August 16, 2022 with Philadelphia…Entering play today, his 16 quality starts are tied for the team lead (Bradish) and tied for 10th-most in the American League


TONIGHT’S GAME: The first-place Astros will try to even up this three-game series with the first-place Orioles, who enter tonight’s game with the top record in the American League… tonight’s pitching matchup features Astros rookie 11-game winner RHP Hunter Brown opposite Orioles veteran RHP Kyle Gibson.

YOUNGBLOODS: The Astros have two rookies, RHP J.P. France (11-5) and RHP Hunter Brown (11-11), that have reached 10-plus wins this season…this marks just the second time in Astros history for two rookies to reach the 10-win mark in the same year…they also did so in 1986, when LHP Jim Deshaies (12-5) and RHP Charlie Kerfeld (11-2) both reached double digits…only three rookies in Astros history have won 12-plus games in a season: Deshaies (12 in 1986), RHP Roy Oswalt (14 in 2001) and LHP Jeriome Robertson (15 in 2003).

HOW THE WEST WAS WON: With just 11 games remaining on the schedule, the first-place Astros enter tonight’s game with a 1.5-game lead over the Rangers (82-68) and Mariners (82-68)…the Astros have held first place for two weeks, since ascending to the top of the division after a win over the Rangers on Sept. 5…the Astros have won the AL West in five straight full seasons (2017-19, 2021-22).

VS. BALTIMORE: The Astros and Orioles are playing their second and final series of the season this week, with the two teams splitting their four games played thus far in 2023…both teams have tons to play for this week, with the Astros still vying for a postseason spot and the Orioles looking to clinch a division title and a subsequent bye in the first round of the postseason…if the season ended today, the Orioles and Astros would rank as the top two seeds in the American League postseason.

ROAD WARRIORS: The Astros are 38-38 at home, doing most of their damage on the road, where they’ve gone 46-29 (.613), which ranks as the second-best road record in the AL, trailing only the Orioles (49-26)…among AL teams in road games, the Astros lead the AL in runs (436), HR (123), batting average (.268), OBP (.339), SLG (.462) and OPS (.801). CONGRATS JOSÉ!: 1B José Abreu reached 10 years of Major League Baseball service on Sunday, a milestone that is revered by fellow players…the Astros will celebrate Abreu’s milestone with a pregame ceremony prior to tonight’s game.

SPREADING THE WEALTH: For just the fifth time in franchise history, the Astros have 10 players on their roster with 10-plus homers for the season (also, 2015, 2017-19)…the 2023 Astros are closing in on tying the franchise record of 11 players with double-digit homers, reached in 2015 and 2017, and need just one homer out of IF/OF Mauricio Dubón to get there. 20/20 TEAMMATES: RF Kyle Tucker (27 HR, 28 SB) and OF Chas McCormick (20 HR, 19 SB) would became teammates with 20/20 seasons should McCormick record one additional stolen base in 2023…only twice in club history have two team- mates posted 20/20 seasons in the same year, in 1997 (Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio) and in 1999 (Bagwell, Carl Everett).

STREAKING ‘STRO: LF Yordan Alvarez has reached base safely in 25 straight games, while hitting .363 (33×91) with a .492 OBP and a 1.151 OPS over that stretch (since Aug. 20)… his streak is the second-longest active streak in the Majors (Elehuris Montero, 26g) and the second-longest of the season for Alvarez (36g from March 30-May 16).

PROSPECT POWER: Astros prospect SS Shay Whitcomb homered again on Sunday for Triple A Sugar Land, giving him 35 homers on the season, which leads all of minor league baseball…Whitcomb, the Astros fifth-round pick in 2020, has split his season between Double A Corpus Christi (12 HR) and Sugar Land, hitting 23 homers in just 81 games at the Triple A level.

CAROLINA LEAGUE ALL-STARS: Earlier today, the Class A Fayetteville Woodpeckers had three players named as Carolina League All-Stars: OF Zach Cole, RHP Jose Fleury and RHP Tyler Guilfoil…Cole (11 HR, 25 SB, .891 OPS) and Guilfoil (2.74 ERA, 91 SO in 62.1IP) both began their season with Fayetteville before promotions to Class A Asheville…Fleury pitched his entire season at Fayetteville, striking out 139 in 98.2 innings, while posting a 3.65 ERA and a .182 opponent average.

LAST START – 9/13 VS. OAK: recorded one of his best starts of the season…allowed 2 walks and struck out 7 in 5.0 no-hit innings to earn his 11th win of the season…has recorded 169 strikeouts this season, surpassing RHP Luis Garcia (167 in 2021) for the 2nd-most strikeouts in a single season by an Astros rookie…he only trails RHP Tom Griffin (200 in 1969).

ABOUT BROWN: rookie right-hander has primarily pitched out of the Astros rotation this season, making 28 appearances (27 starts) and pitching 146.1 innings…ranks T-2nd on the club in wins, 2nd in strikeouts (169), T-2nd in innings and 3rd in quality starts (11). in his start on Aug. 20 vs. Seattle, he surpassed his career high in innings for a single season…prior to this season, his career high was 126.1 innings reached between Triple A and the Majors in 2022.

ROOKIE LEADERBOARD: according to WAR produced by STATS, Brown ranks 2nd among AL pitchers in WAR at 2.5, behind only Guardians RHP Tanner Bibee, who has recorded a 3.1 WAR. leads AL rookie pitchers in innings, strikeouts, and strikeouts per 9.0 (10.39), while ranking T-1st in wins (min 100 IP)…including all AL pitchers, ranks 6th in strikeouts per 9.0 (min. 130 IP). the Astros have had a top five finisher in 4 straight seasons: SS Jeremy Peña (5th in 2022), RHP Luis Garcia (2nd in 2021), RHP Cristian Javier (3rd in 2020) and LF Yordan Alvarez (1st in 2019).

GROUND CONTROL: ranks 3rd among AL pitchers with a 52.7% ground ball percentage, trailing teammate LHP Framber Valdez (55.1%) and the Red Sox RHP Brayan Bello (56.3%).

VS. BAL: will be making his 2nd career start against the Orioles…his only other start came earlier this season at Camden Yards…in that outing, he allowed 5 runs in 8 hits and no walks with 7 strikoeuts in 6.0 innings.

HISTORIC START: his 191 career strikeouts are the 4th-most by an Astros pitcher through their first 35 career outings, trailing RHP Lance McCullers Jr. (229), RHP Tom Griffin (216) and RHP Bud Norris (194). started his career 5-0 through his first 12 games (7 starts), a streak which spanned from Sept. 5, 2022 to April 26, 2023. has recorded 169 strikeouts this season, surpassing RHP Luis Garcia (167 in 2021) for the 2nd-most strikeouts in a single season by an Astros rookie…he only trails RHP Tom Griffin (200 in 1969)…his 10.39 strikeouts per 9.0 would rank 1st in a single season by an Astros rookie (min. 140 IP), directly in front of Garcia (9.68). his 169 strikeouts are already 8th-most from an AL rookie since 2000…directly trails LHP C.C. Sabathia (171).

STRIKEOUT KING: from May 14-31, he recorded 8+ K’s in 4 consecutive starts…the last Astros rookie to strike out 8+ batters in 4 consecutive starts was RHP Roy Oswalt, who did so in 6 straight games from Aug. 14-Sept. 9 in 2001.

World Elite Syndicate

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