Friday, June 2, 2023
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MLB Preview: Pittsburgh Pirates (21-19) at Baltimore Orioles (26-13)


THE PIRATES: Have lost each of their first two games of their three-game series against the Orioles…Have lost 11 of their last 12 Games…Won seven straight games from 4/17-23, their longest winning streak since 2018 (11 games)…Are 1.5 games out of first place coming into today in the National League Central.

HE’S GOING THE DISTANCE: Mitch Keller tossed his first career complete game and shutout in his last start Monday night against the Rockies at PNC Park… Keller retired 12 of his first 14 batters and each of the last 10 he faced that helped end Pittsburgh’s seven-game losing streak…Keller also threw 77 of his 103 pitches for strikes while becoming the first Pirate to throw a nine-inning shutout since Jameson Taillon on April 8, 2018, vs. Cincinnati.

THE MATURATION OF MITCH: Mitch Keller comes into today ranked ninth among all National League pitchers with a 2.72 ERA…Keller allowed four runs in 4.2 innings while earning Opening Day honors for the first time in his career on March 30 against the Reds…Since his second start on April 5, Keller ranks 10th in all of MLB and sixth among all National League pitchers with a 2.20 ERA (45.0ip/11er).

LEADING THINGS OFF: Andrew McCutchen is expected to bat leadoff today for the first time this season…Today will be McCutchen’s first time to bat out of the leadoff spot as a Pirate since August 13, 2011…McCutchen is tied with Bob Bailey for the fourth-most leadoff home runs (eight) all-time in Pirates history…The only three players to have more are Barry Bonds (20) and Adam Frazier and Al Martin with 10 apiece. TAKE A WALK: Andrew McCutchen has drawn a walk in each of his last five games and enters today tied for 11th in the National League with 21 this season…McCutchen’s walk rate of 15.2 percent ranks 12th in all of MLB according to FanGraphs (Oakland’s Ryan Noda is first with a walk of 21.1 percent).

MOVING ON TO MOTOWN: The Pirates will depart for Detroit following today’s game for a two-game series with the Tigers beginning Tuesday night…The Pirates are 9-3 at Comerica Park since the beginning of 2017…It will also be Pittsburgh’s second series against the American League Central this season after taking two of three games against the White Sox from April 7-9 at PNC Park.

A BREAK FROM THE EAST: The Pirates will have just one more series against the American League East following today’s game against the Orioles (the Bucs will host the Yankees from September 15-17)…The Bucs have lost each of their last three series against the AL East since sweeping the Red Sox at Fenway from April 3-5.

FOR MOM: Today, MLB is once again teaming up with Susan G. Komen®, the world’s leading breast cancer organization, to honor moms and offer support while facing breast cancer, especially highlighting efforts to eliminate disparities in diverse communities. Below are details on event activations… One-of-a-kind caps, specially designed by New Era featuring pink Club logos (worn by all players, managers, coaches, and other on-field personnel)… On-field personnel may wear pink wristbands and will wear the special breast cancer awareness, pink MLB silhouetted batter decals on Nike jerseys.

FROM LAST NIGHT: Roansy Contreras worked a career-high tying 7.0 innings Saturday night while allowing two runs in the loss (he also worked 7.0 innings on August 22, 2022, against the Braves)…Prior to last night, Pittsburgh won each of its previous 11 games when a starting pitcher worked at least 6.0 innings in a game (the last loss came on April 16 at St. Louis when Mitch Keller allowed three runs in 6.0 innings but the team was walked off in 10 innings).

WINNING STARTS HERE: Pittsburgh’s starting rotation has recorded 16 wins this season, which are tied for the third-most in MLB and tied for the most in the National League along with the Dodgers…The starting rotation has tossed the second-most innings (218.1) among all National League teams behind the San Diego Padres (220.1).

GOING THE EXTRA MILE: The Pirates have recorded an extra base hit in each of their first 40 games of this season, which is the longest streak in all of MLB for 2023…Pittsburgh comes into today ranked eighth in all of MLB with 127 extra base hits…Pittsburgh finished 2022 tied for 27th in MLB in extra base hits (408).

EXTRA EXTRA: Bryan Reynolds is tied for fifth in all of MLB with 20 extra base hits, which are also tied for the second-most in the National League behind St. Louis’ Paul Goldschmidt (21)…Fourteen of Reynolds’ 20 extra base hits have been doubles (his 14 doubles are tied for the most in the National League).

MITCH KELLER: The 27-year-old righthander will make his ninth start of the season today…Tossed the first complete game of his career in a 4-0 shutout Monday night against the Rockies at PNC Park.

vs. BALTIMORE:0-1 in one career start…Allowed one run in 6.0 innings but came away with a loss in a 1-0 game at Camden Yards on 8/5/22.


SERIES-CLINCHING SHUTOUT: The Orioles defeated the Pirates, 2-0, last night to clinch their 10th series win of the season…Tyler Wells retired 17 batters in a row at one point while tossing 7.0 scoreless innings…Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson both hit solo home runs in the victory.

The Orioles have now thrown four shutouts this year (also 4/3 at TEX, 4/18 at WSH, & 4/19 at WSH); since the start of last season, the O’s have 19 shutouts, tied for the fourth-most in the AL and tied for the sixth-most in MLB; Baltimore had 11 total shutouts in 384 games from 2019-21.

In 2022, the Birds didn’t win their 10th series until the 23rd series from June 23-26 at Chicago-AL (10-9-4) and didn’t secure their 10th series of at least two games until the 25th series from July 4-6 vs. Texas (10-11-4).

Baltimore has allowed three runs or fewer in six straight games; they had 11 such games through the first 33 games to begin the year.

WHAT’S TRENDING: The O’s have won four games in a row for the second time this season, joining a seven-game streak from April 16-24…The team has won 17 of the last 23 games, 20 of 27, and 22 of 30…The 26-13 overall record is the second-best in MLB to start the season (see box at right).

The start to the year is tied for the third-best start in O’s history (since 1954) through 39 games with 1979, 1997, and 2005, and trailing the 27-12 starts in 1969 and 1970; only four previous teams in club history have won 27 of their first 40 games – 1970 (28-12), 1997 (27-13), and 1969 (27-13) .

Last season, the Birds did not reach 26 wins until the 61st game on June 12 (26-35); they did not reach 27 wins until the 63rd game on June 14 (27-36).

The Orioles are 88-62 since June 1, 2022, a 95-win pace; the .587 winning percentage during that time is the second-best in the AL and fourth-best in MLB, trailing the Braves (.682, 103-48), Dodgers (.673, 103-50), and Astros (.623, 94-57).

AGAINST THE PIRATES: The Orioles and Pirates wrap up their only series of the season this weekend…With a win today, Baltimore would sweep Pittsburgh for the first time since a two-game set from June 6-7, 2017 and in a three-game series for the first time since June 12-14, 2012…The Birds hosted the Pirates last year from August 5-7 with the O’s winning the first two games of the series before the Buccos won the finale…The Orioles are 13-2 all-time (since the teams first met in 2005) against the Pirates at Oriole Park.

FEELS GOOD TO BE HOME: The Orioles are in the midst of their longest homestand of the season, continuing today with the finale of three games against Pittsburgh…The O’s dropped the homestand opener to Tampa Bay but have won the next four games… They host the Angels for four games beginning May 15 to conclude the 10-game, 11-day homestand.

The 13-5 start at home is tied for the third-best home start in team history (since 1954) with 1964, 1979, 1981, 1992, 1997, and 2016, while trailing only 2017 (15-3) and 1972 (14-4).

OPENING STATEMENTS: Baltimore starting pitchers have a 1.74 ERA (9 ER/46.2 IP) in eight games since May 5, the second-best starter ERA in the majors during that time (TOR, 1.40)…Through May 4, O’s starters had a 5.65 ERA (98 ER/156.0 IP), ranked 12th in the AL and 25th in MLB.

WHAT A RELIEF: The Baltimore bullpen owns a 3.14 ERA (51 ER/146.1 IP), third-best in MLB…Baltimore’s 2.60 reliever ERA (19 ER/65.2 IP) at home ranks as the third-best in the AL and fourth-best in the majors…O’s relievers have 12 wins this season, tied with Cincinnati for the most in the majors…The Orioles are second in MLB with 174 strikeouts from the ‘pen and they are have struck out 28.5 percent of batters faced, highest in MLB this year.

CED AND DONE: Cedric Mullins became the seventh player in Orioles history (since 1954) to hit for the cycle on Friday night…Mullins capped off his historic night with a three-run homer in the eighth inning after singling in the third, tripling in the fifth, and doubling in the seventh.  Mullins joined Austin Hays (6/22/22 vs. WSH), Jonathan Villar (8/5/19 vs. NYY), Félix Pié (8/14/09 vs. LAA), Aubrey Huff (6/29/07 vs. LAA), Cal Ripken, Jr. (5/6/84 at TEX), and Brooks Robinson (7/15/60 at CWS) as Orioles to hit for the cycle; he is the second MLB player to hit for the cycle this season, along with Miami’s Luis Arraez (4/11 at PHI).

His 31 RBI rank sixth in the AL and tied for seventh in MLB; the 30 RBI as the center fielder lead the majors and the 23 RBI from the leadoff spot are third-most in MLB.

He leads the O’s with 1.4 fWAR, per FanGraphs.

BIG TIME RUTSCH: Adley Rutschman has appeared in all 39 Orioles games this season, one of two primary catchers to play in each of his team’s games (CIN’s Tyler Stephenson)…He has reached base safely three times in back-to-back games, his 12th such games of the year, third-most in MLB…His 73 times on base lead the AL and are tied for third in MLB…He leads the AL and is second in MLB with 31 walks while ranking fourth in the AL and eighth in the majors with a .415 on-base percentage.  Rutschman snapped an 0-for-his-last-19 stretch with a two-run homer onto Eutaw Street in the third inning on Tuesday against Tampa Bay, the first Eutaw Street home run by an Oriole since Anthony Santander on September 5, 2022 (G1) vs. Toronto; marked his first career Eutaw Street homer, the 119th in ballpark history, 56th by an Oriole, and the second this season (BOS’ Devers on 4/24); the 111.1 mph blast was the hardest-hit ball of his career.

THE CANO SHOW: Yennier Cano has surrendered just four hits and one hit batter in 19.2 scoreless innings over 15 appearances to begin the season after being recalled from Triple-A Norfolk on April 14…He allowed his first extra-base hit of the year on a one-out double from Tucupita Marcano last night…Opponents are slashing .067/.082/.083 (4-for-60), all of which lead MLB pitchers with at least 10 appearances…His .165 OPS against is less than half of the next closest player (CIN’s Lucas Sims, .356).  He leads all O’s with 1.9 bWAR, per Baseball Reference; his 1.2 fWAR leads Orioles pitchers and is tied for third on the team, per FanGraphs.  Cano’s 15-game scoreless streak is the third-longest to begin a year by an O’s pitcher in team history (since 1954), trailing Donnie Hart (18G) in 2016 and Will
Ohman (25G) in 2010.

ROSTER MOVES: The Orioles today recalled Joey Ortiz from Triple-A Norfolk…In a corresponding move, Nick Vespi was optioned to the Tides after yesterday’s game.

QUICK HITS: Scheduled to make his ninth start of season, fourth at home, and fourth career start against the Pirates this afternoon…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)…Since his debut in 2013, Gibson ranks among active MLB pitchers in starts (4th, 269), innings (5th, 1551.0), and quality starts (14th, 121)…In 275 career appearances (269 GS), Gibson owns a 93-93 record with a 4.51 ERA (778 ER/1551.0 IP)…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: Dealt his second straight loss on May 8 vs. Tampa Bay…Allowed two runs on six hits (1 HR) with two walks and four strikeouts in 6.0+ innings; one of the runs scored after he left the game…Marked his team-leading fourth quality start of the season; owns four of the Orioles’ 11 quality starts this season…Dropped consecutive starts for the fi rst time since September 14-19, 2021 with the Phillies… Threw 93 pitches, 59 strikes.

CAREER AGAINST THE PIRATES: Making his fourth career start against the Pirates…Owns a 2-0 record with a 2.75 ERA (6 ER/19.2 IP) and 20 strikeouts through his first three career outings…Earned the win in his last start against Pittsburgh with Philadelphia on August 27, 2022 at Citizens Bank Park…Worked 7.0 scoreless innings on six hits with one walk and nine strikeouts…Threw 103 pitches, 67 strikes.

CAREER AGAINST THE NL CENTRAL: Making his 18th career start against the NL Central…Sports a 4-6 record with a 5.12 ERA (55 ER/96.2 IP) and six quality starts through his first 17 career outings against the division…Earned the win in his last start against the NL Central on August 27, 2022 vs. Pittsburgh with Philadelphia… Tossed a career-high 11 strikeouts on August 16, 2022 at Cincinnati with the Phillies…Has logged three quality starts in his last four outings against the division.

INTERLEAGUE SOLDIER: Making his first Interleague start of the 2023 season this afternoon…Has gone 6-14 with a 5.40 ERA (97 ER/161.2 IP) in 29 career Interleague starts; dealt the loss in his last such outing on September 20, 2022 vs. Toronto with the Phillies, allowing seven runs on a career-high 12 hits (1 HR) with one walk and three strikeouts in 5.0 innings…Threw 79 pitches, 52 strikes…Today marks his first career Interleague start against the Pirates.

HOME COOKING: Making his fourth home start of the 2023 campaign this afternoon…Dealt the loss in his last start at Oriole Park on May 8 vs. Tampa Bay… Sports a 2-1 record with a 1.93 ERA (4 ER/18.2 IP) in three home starts this season… Owns a 48-49 record with a 4.47 ERA (383 ER/771.0 IP) and 59 quality starts in 136 career home appearances (134 GS).

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