Saturday, June 22, 2024
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MLB Preview: Toronto Blue Jays (70-56) at Baltimore Orioles (77-48)

TORONTO BLUE JAYS NOTES:

THE LATEST: The Blue Jays tallied three times in the 10th inning last night to double up the Orioles, 6-3…Improved to 8-7 in extra-inning contests…The .533 win% in extras is tied for 3rd best in the AL…Have gone 22-19 in series openers. Toronto has won three straight games, 16 of its last 27 games and is 25-16 across its last 41…The .610 win% over that span (since July 4) is 3rd best in the AL (5th in MLB)…Enters today 1.0 game back of Seattle (71-55) for the 3rd AL Wild Card spot.

MVP MOMENTS: Brandon Belt gave Toronto a 5-3 edge with a two-run blast to kick off the 10th inning…Marked the 1st time in team history to lead off an inning with a two-run homer…Was his 14th longball of the season and his 3rd in the last two games…Has homered in consecutive contests for the 2nd time this season (also: July 22-23 at SEA) and the 22nd time in his career. The 35-year-old also drew a walk to finish 1-for-4 on the night…Has reached base safely in each of his last 16 starts while going 18-for-58 (.310) with 15 runs scored, four doubles, six home runs, 10 RBI, and 13 walks (.437 OBP, 1.126 OPS)…His 4.43 pitches/PA this season tops all MLB batters (min. 300 PA)…His 1.155 OPS for the month of August is 2nd best in the AL (3rd in MLB) while his .714 SLG is 3rd and his .441 OBP ranks 6th.

VAR OUT, MAN: Daulton Varsho gave the Blue Jays a 2-1 lead in the 2nd inning with a two-run bomb to right-center field… Was his 16th homer of the season and the 3rd of his last seven games…Was also his 6th extra-base hit in his last eight games. The outfielder added a single and stole a base in the 8th for a 2-for-5 evening…Over his last 16 contests, has hit .320 (16-for-50) with three doubles, a triple, four home runs, and 13 RBI (1.053 OPS)…Also has an AL-best 20 defensive runs saved this season.

VLAD HABITS: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. singled twice before recording his 25th double in the 10th inning to finish 3-for-5 last night…Marked his 6th three-hit effort of the season… Has reached base safely in 28 of his last 30 games while hitting .259 (29-for-112) with five doubles, four home runs, 12 RBI, and an 18BB/18K ratio (.777 OPS)…Has recorded an AL-leading 210 hard-hit balls (95+ MPH) this season, 14 more than the next closest batter (Julio Rodríguez – 196), while his average exit velocity of 93.4 ranks 7th.

JUST BO WITH IT: Bo Bichette singled and scored a run last night…Has gone 4-for-15 (.267) with three runs, two extra-base hits, and two RBI in his three games since coming off the injured list…Extended his hitting streak to nine games while going 18-for-41 (.439) with three doubles, a triple, two home runs, and seven RBI. The shortstop now has 148 hits to top all AL batters (2nd: Marcus Semien – 146), despite missing 16 games with a knee injury…Is 2nd among AL batters with a .319 AVG while tied for 2nd with 43 multi-hit games…Is also 7th in the AL OPS (.848), 9th in SLG (.498), and 9th in total bases (231).

KK’S WAY: Kevin Kiermaier singled, doubled, and drove in a run for a 2-for-4 night…His 66 hits while batting 9th are the most in the AL (2nd: Leody Taveras – 63)…Over his last 28 games, has batted .293 (22-for-75) with three doubles, two home runs, and 12 RBI (.755 OPS).

ROAD WORK: The Blue Jays are on a six-game, seven-day road trip (3-1 so far)…Own a 38-29 road record this season for a .567 win%, 4th best in the AL (5th in MLB), and currently 2nd best in team history (.580 in 1993)… Have gone 18-7 over their last 25 road games for a .720 win%, the best road record in MLB since June 20 (2nd: SEA – .719)…After this three-game series in Baltimore, will return to Toronto for a sixgame homestand against Cleveland (60-66) and Washington (58-68).
Blue Jays hitters are 1st in the AL with a .264 road batting average and rank 2nd in road OBP (.331), 2nd in road SLG (.431), and 2nd in road OPS (.762)…The pitching staff ranks 1st in the AL in road ERA (3.85), 9th in road opponents’ AVG (.249), and 9th in road WHIP (1.28).

BATT CHAPMAN: Matt Chapman snapped an 0-for-18 drought by singling in each of his first two at-bats last night…Marked his 26th multi-hit game…Now owns a hard-hit percentage of 57.3, 2nd in the AL to Aaron Judge (64.6).

A BEAST SINCE THE BREAK: Yusei Kikuchi was eventually charged with three runs while striking out six batters across 4.2 innings of work last night…His 1.82 ERA since the All-Star break (8 ER/39.2 IP) is the best in the Majors (min. 25.0 IP)… His 3.52 ERA for the year is now 11th among qualified AL pitchers.

PITCHING IN: Toronto pitchers have combined for an MLB-best 3.64 ERA this season (2nd: SEA – 3.69)…Are 3rd in MLB with 1,186 strikeouts (MIN – 1,199; MIA – 1,196)… Rank 5th in the AL in both opponents’ batting average (.238) and WHIP (1.24)…The rotation has recorded 57 quality starts, 4th most in the AL (5th in MLB).

HITTING IT: Toronto batters have notched 1,121 hits this season, 3rd most in the AL (5th in MLB)…Are also 3rd in the AL in team OBP (.329), 4th in AVG (.259), 6th in OPS (.745), and 8th in SLG (.416).

DIVISIONAL DETAILS: The Blue Jays have now won four straight games vs. AL East clubs…Have still gone 12-23 against divisional opponents this season, the 3rd fewest intra-division wins in MLB (OAK – 6, COL – 8).

VS. THE ORIOLES: All-Time: 387-329
2023: 3-8 Road: 173-182
Road: 2-2 Camden Yards: 134-124

The Blue Jays have gone 3-8 through 11 games vs. the Orioles this season…Dropped two of the three contests at Camden Yards during their last visit in June…Have now gone 23-12 in Baltimore since the start of the 2019 season.

Bo Bichette has now gone 11-for-33 (.333) with two doubles and two RBI in his eight games played vs. Baltimore this season…In 54 career meetings, has batted .327 (73-for-223) with 14 doubles, 10 home runs, and 36 RBI (.892 OPS)…Is also hitting .367 (44-for-120) across 28 games at Camden Yards, including seven doubles, nine homers, and 28 RBI (1.056 OPS)…The .367 AVG at the venue is 3rd highest among active players (min. 100AB), behind Jose Altuve (.416) and Joey Wendle (.381).

Danny Jansen has connected for four home runs in his 10 games vs. the O’s this year while hitting .258 (8-for-31) with seven RBI…Is a lifetime 41-for-166 (.247) with 10 doubles, a triple, 11 homers, and 31 RBI over 52 games vs. BAL (.848 OPS)

STARTING PITCHER – Kevin Gausman, RHP #34
TODAY’S GAME: Making his 25th start of the season and his 13th on the road…Dropped to 9-7 on the year his last time out, on 8/16 vs. PHI, giving up 7R/5ER over 5.1 innings (7H, 3BB, 4K). His 187 strikeouts are tied for the most in the AL (Pablo López – 187), and are the 2nd most ever by a Blue Jay in their first 24 outings of a season (1st: Roger Clemens – 202 in 1997). Owns a 2.80 FIP since the start of the 2020 season, the 2nd-best mark among qualified hurlers (1st: Corbin Burnes – 2.79).

2023 HIGHLIGHTS: Won his 9th game of the year on 8/9 at CLE, tossing 7.0 shutout frames with 4 hits, no walks, and 6 strikeouts…Was his 16th quality start of the year. Picked up his 8th win of the year on 7/28 vs. LAA, throwing 6.0+ innings of one-run ball with 5 hits, 3 walks, and 9 strikeouts. Allowed 4 runs over 6.0 innings on 7/22 at SEA, giving up 5 hits, a career-high-tying 4 homers, no walks, and 9 strikeouts. Named an All-Star for the 2nd time in his career (also: 2021).
Took the loss on 6/27 vs. SF, tossing 6.0 frames of one-run ball with 3 hits, a walk, and 12 strikeouts…Fanned LaMonte Wade Jr. in the 4th inning to reach 1,500 career strikeouts, becoming the 21st active player to reach the mark…Was his MLB-leading 7th double-digit strikeout game of 2023. Pitched 7.0 frames of one-run ball on 6/6 vs. HOU, scattering 4 hits with no walks and a career-high-tying 13 strikeouts (also: 13K on 4/29/23 vs. SEA)…Became the 4th player (8th time) in franchise history to punch out at least 13 batters without any walks in a single game (last: José Berríos on 7/12/22 vs. PHI). Took a no-decision on 5/21 vs. BAL, tossing 8.0 frames of two-run ball on a season-high 115 pitches (6H, 2BB, 4K)…Matched his longest outing of the year (8.0IP on 4/12 vs. DET). 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 then 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). 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).

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS: Set career-best marks in 2021 innings pitched (192.0), wins (14), quality starts (20), ERA (2.81), strikeouts (227), opponents’ AVG (.210), and WHIP (1.04). Named an All-Star for the 1st time in his career in 2021 and finished 6th in NL Cy Young voting…Signed a 5-year deal with Toronto on 12/1/21. Selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the 1st round (4th overall) of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft.

VS. THE ORIOLES: Facing the Orioles for the 3rd time this season and the 5th time in his career…Has allowed 3 runs or fewer in each of his last 3 meetings with the O’s…His only start at Camden Yards as a visitor came last season on 9/5, giving up 2 runs over 6.2 frames (7H, 0BB, 6K)…Over 71 career games at Camden Yards (63 starts), has gone 25-20 with a 3.68 ERA (159 ER/388.2 IP).

BALTIMORE ORIOLES NOTES:

YESTERDAY’S NEWS: The Orioles fell to the Blue Jays in last night’s three-game series opener, 6-3 in 10 innings…Are now 46-13 when scoring first…Fell to 9-6 in extra-inning contests this year…Were defeated by the Jays in a series opener for the first time this season.

Grayson Rodriguez tossed his fourth quality start and third in a row; has pitched to a 3.24 ERA (15 ER/41.2 IP) in seven starts since being recalled from Triple-A Norfolk on July 17.

James McCann extended his hitting streak to nine games, his longest streak since a 10-gamer from May 1-12 (G2), 2018 with Chicago-AL; has also reached base safely in a career-high-tying 15 games for the third time and first since June 9-28, 2019 with the White Sox.

Adley Rutschman collected his 33rd multi-hit game, the most among primary catchers entering play today.

MOUNT UP: Ryan Mountcastle has reached base safely in a career-high 27 straight games since July 21, the longest active streak in MLB (see box at right)…It is the longest on-base streak by an Orioles batter since Nick Markakis had a 38-game streak from July 5 to August 18, 2009…Mountcastle has recorded a hit in 20 of the last 22 games since July 28…His 12- game hitting streak, the second-longest of his career, was snapped on August 11 at Seattle… Mountcastle is slashing .380/.458/.577 (27-for-71) with two doubles, four home runs, 14 runs scored, 14 RBI, 11 walks, and one stolen base in 19 games in August…Entering today, he ranks among MLB leaders this month in on-base percentage (2nd), batting average (3rd), hits (T-8th), and OPS (10th, 1.035)…He’s reached base safely in all 30 of his starts since returning from the Injured List on July 9 while batting .374/.439/.607 (40-for-107) with seven doubles, six homers, 21 runs scored, 20 RBI, 14 walks, and one stolen base in those games.

STATING HIS CASE: Gunnar Henderson leads AL rookies and ranks tied for first among MLB rookies with 4.1 bWAR; he also leads AL rookies and ranks tied for third among MLB rookies with 3.1 fWAR…He leads AL rookies in triples (6) and ranks among the leaders in runs (T-1st, 70), home runs (2nd, 21), extra-base hits (2nd, 46), RBI (T-2nd, 61), hits (3rd, 101), walks (3rd, 47), total bases (3rd, 195), doubles (5th, 19), and stolen bases (9th, 7)…Among AL rookies with at least 400 plate appearances, he ranks second in slugging (.480) and third in on-base percentage (.330) and OPS (.810).

Henderson is the ninth rookie in Orioles history to hit 20 home runs in a season and first since Ryan Mountcastle set the O’s rookie record with 33 long balls in 2021.

He is also the fourth O’s rookie to hit six triples and the first since Al Bumbry (11) and Rich Coggins (9) in 1973.

He is one double away from becoming the third rookie in team history to record 20+ doubles, 5+ triples, and 20+ homers, which would join Cal Ripken, Jr. (1982) and Ron Hansen (1960), both of whom won AL Rookie of the Year.

He is one double and three stolen bases 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, and first since Arizona’s Corbin Carroll this year.

Henderson leads the O’s with nine Defensive Runs Saved, per Sports Info Solutions; seven of those are at shortstop, tied for seventh in MLB despite playing over 200 fewer innings at the position than anyone ahead of him.

A DAY TO REMEMBER: On Sunday in Oakland, Gunnar Henderson went 4-for-5 with two doubles, one triple, one home run, three runs, and two RBI, finishing a single shy of becoming the eighth player in Orioles history (since 1954) to hit for the cycle…According to MLB.com’s Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports), Henderson recorded the 44th individual game in MLB history with multiple doubles, a triple, and a home run, and the first such game since New York-NL’s David Wright on June 23, 2013 at Philadelphia; at 22 years, 52 days old, Henderson was the second-youngest player with such a game, after Detroit’s Al Kaline, who accomplished the feat at 21 years, 194 days old on June 30, 1956 at Kansas City…The only other Oriole to post such a stat line was Don Baylor on April 6, 1973 vs. Milwaukee…Henderson also became the first Oriole with four extra-base hits in a game since Melvin Mora on August 17, 2008 at Detroit, as well as the youngest, breaking the mark held by Cal Ripken, Jr., who did so at 23 years, 10 days old on September 3, 1983 at Minnesota.

SWEEPLESS IN BALTIMORE: The Orioles have gone 79 consecutive series of at least two decisions (no ties) without being swept…According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that is the most consecutive series without getting swept in O’s history, ahead of 46 consecutive sweepless series from 1971-72…It is the fifth-longest such streak in MLB history, trailing the 1942-44 St. Louis Cardinals (124), 1906-09 Chicago Cubs (115), 1903-05 New York Giants (105), and 1922-24 New York Yankees (83)…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).

WHAT’S TRENDING: The O’s have won six of their last nine games, seven of 11, 14 of 21, 15 of 23, 28 of 41, and 29 of 44…At 77-48 (.616), the Orioles have the best record in the AL and second-best in MLB (see box at right)…The Braves (81-44, .648) and Dodgers (76-48, .613) are the only other teams with at least 70 wins and a .600 winning percentage this season…The team had a season-best eight-game winning streak from July 5-16, Baltimore’s longest since a 10-gamer from July 3-13, 2022…The Birds are 139-97 (.589) since June 2022, the second-best record in the AL and fourth-best in MLB during that time.

The O’s hold a 2.0-game lead over the Rays in the AL East.

FEELS GOOD TO BE HOME: The Orioles began a nine-game homestand with the first of three games against the Blue Jays last night…The Orioles will host the Rockies for three games from August 25-27 and the White Sox for three to conclude the homestand from August 28-30.

The Orioles are 36-24 (.600) at home this season, the third-best home record in the AL and tied for fifth-best in MLB.

BATTLE OF THE BIRDS: The O’s and Jays complete their season series against each other this week…Baltimore has clinched the season series victory over Toronto after going 8-3 through the first 11 games, including finishing 6-1 north of the border…The O’s swept a three-game series at Rogers Centre from May 19-21, took two of three at Oriole Park from June 13-15, and three of four at Rogers Centre from July 31 to August 3…Since the start of 2022, the O’s hold a 17-13 (.567) edge over the Blue Jays.

Ryan Mountcastle went 11-for-13 with four doubles, five runs scored, six RBI, three walks, and one stolen base during the four-game set in Toronto from July 31 to August 3…The 11 hits are tied with Merv Rettenmund (September 24-26, 1971 at Cleveland) for the most in a four-game series since the Orioles moved to Baltimore in 1954.

STATE OF THE FARM: For the second straight year, Baseball America, ESPN, and MLB Pipeline have named the Orioles the top farm system in baseball in their midseason rankings…The O’s have seven prospects in Baseball America’s Top 100 (see box at right) and six in the MLB Pipeline list; Jackson Holliday is ranked as the No. 1 overall prospect by both outlets.

ROSTER MOVES: The Orioles today reinstated right-handed pitcher Austin Voth (right elbow discomfort) from the 60-day Injured List, optioned right-handed pitcher Mike Baumann to Triple-A Norfolk, and transferred left-handed pitcher Keegan Akin (lower back discomfort) to the 60-day Injured List

STARTING PITCHER – #64 DEAN KREMER RHP
QUICK HITS: Scheduled to make his 26th start of the season, 15th at home, and 10th career appearance (ninth start) against Toronto tonight…Set a career high with 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: Dealt the loss in his last outing on August 16 at San Diego after allowing three runs on five hits with two walks and four strikeouts in 6.0 innings…All three runs scored in the third inning…Threw 94 pitches, 64 strikes.

CAREER AGAINST THE BLUE JAYS: Slated to make his 10th appearance (ninth start) against Toronto…Last time out against the division foe on June 13 at Oriole Park, earned the win…Allowed two runs on eight hits with six strikeouts in 6.0 innings…Threw 95 pitches, 63 strikes…Sports a 2-3 record with a 4.93 ERA (25 ER/45.2 IP) with four quality starts in nine career outings against the Blue Jays.

CAREER AGAINST THE AL EAST: Making his 31st career appearance (30th start) against the AL East tonight…Last time out against the division on July 30 at Oriole Park vs. New York-AL, did not factor in the decision…Allowed three runs on seven hits (1 HR) with two walks and seven strikeouts in 4.0+ innings…Left with one runner on, who later scored… Threw 90 pitches, 59 strikes…Owns a 6-11 record with a 5.22 ERA (85 ER/146.2 IP) in 30 career appearances against the AL East.

CUTTING DOWN: Kremer has recorded 34 strikeouts via his cutter this season, the fifth-most in MLB entering today’s game…Opposing hitters are slashing .230/.296/.489 (32-for-139) against his secondary pitch…In 2022, Kremer punched out 27 batters with his cutter, while opponents slashed .259/.292/.356 (45-for-174).

SWEET VICTORY: Kremer’s 11 wins this season are second on the team (Gibson, 12), tied for fourth in the AL, and tied for 10th in MLB entering play today…His 11 victories are also a career high, surpassing his eight victories in 2022…The Orioles own an 18-7 edge in his 25 assignments this season, including victories in seven of his last eight since July 5 and in 10 of his last 12 starts since June 13.

ENJOYING THE NIGHT LIFE: Kremer owns a 9-3 record with a 4.01 ERA (40 ER/89.2 IP) and nine quality starts in 16 night assignments this season…His nine victories after dark are tied for the AL lead and are tied for third-most in MLB entering tonight’s game…The Orioles own an 11-4 edge in his night starts, including four consecutive wins from July 5-August 4.

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