The Orioles were the biggest surprise in the major leagues last season. They are on track to become even more successful this year.
Baltimore entered the 2022 campaign and is expected to be the worst team in the major leagues, with FanGraphs predicting the rebuilding club to win 63 games. Those Orioles suddenly emerged over the summer as playoff contenders, far exceeding that projection to win 83.
The 2023 Orioles won their 83rd game on Tuesday — a 9-3 win over the Chicago White Sox — and have 30 games left to play. They were expected to win just 75 games at the start of the season. They are now on track to earn 100.
“I haven’t set myself any goal of winning or anything for the year. Honestly, I just wanted to improve on last year,” manager Brandon Hyde said ahead of Tuesday’s win. “I was so impressed with our team. Our players deserve a lot of credit for the season they have achieved so far. They bonded extremely well as a team.
“These guys really like each other, they like winning together. There is an incredible camaraderie.
Tuesday’s win at Camden Yards it was like many of them this year. The Orioles trailed 1-0 early but rallied to claim their 41st comeback victory. Starting pitcher Dean Kremer had another quality start with six one-run innings, and Anthony Santander delivered a three-run double with two outs in the seventh inning to break the tie.
Before Santander’s double, the White Sox (52-81) had their own chance to take the lead. Danny Coulombe replaced Kremer with runners first and second and no outs in the seventh, but the southpaw evaded blocking as he has often this season, striking out three straight batters on two bunt attempts and a soft groundout.
After Santander’s hit, the Orioles repeated their performance in the eighth inning after Monday’s victory, scoring five runs in the frame while leading nine batters to the plate. After Cedric Mullins’ RBI groundout, five consecutive Orioles recorded hits to open the game. Ryan McKenna, whose two-out-and-hit single in the seventh sparked Santander’s rally, hit a two-run double, stole the third for his second hit of the night and scored on Adley’s single Rutschmann. Santander then scored his fourth run with a single to score Rutschman.
Baltimore (83-49) remains 2 1/2 games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays at the top of the American League standings. The Orioles have a 99.9% chance of making the playoffs and a 65% chance of winning the AL East, according to FanGraphs.
“We still have a whole month to go and we’ve already managed to get back to where we were last year, which is a really big turnaround for us,” said Austin Hays, who went 2-for-4 and took a leap forward. catch in left field to complete the start of the eighth. “It’s a big accomplishment for us, but we know we’re not done and there’s still a lot of baseball left. I just have to keep going.
After the Orioles retired 27 of the White Sox’s 30 batters on Monday, Kremer moved up six, six down to start Tuesday’s game. White Sox starter Jesse Scholtens followed suit with three perfect innings.
The only run allowed by Kremer was a solo homer against Lenyn Sosa in the third inning. Adam Frazier tied the game two innings later with an RBI single to score Hays. Frazier has been a slightly below average hitter this season by OPS, but he hits .295 with a .947 OPS in 106 plate appearances with runners in base position. With 52 RBIs, he is one point off his career high of 53 set in 2017.
Kremer worked around a single in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings to continue his recent dominance. In his last 10 starts, Kremer has a 2.90 ERA. His quality start on Tuesday was his fourth in a row and his seventh since July.
“Giving up one in six work runs, I’m going to take this every day of the week,” the right-hander said.
The Orioles are 20-7 in games Kremer has started this season. Since the end of his bad month of April, they are 17-4 and the club are 9-1 in their 10 starts since July.
Tuesday’s win might not have happened without Coulombe. After blocking Kremer’s two runners, the veteran southpaw blocked 32 of the 41 runners he inherited this season.
“It was huge,” Kremer said of Coulombe’s round. “It could have been a game-changer if they had managed a few points, so it was huge that Danny got away with it.”
Coulombe struck out the first two batters in the eighth with a 4-1 lead before Hyde introduced Yennier Cano against Luis Robert Jr., whose deep ball was stolen by Camden Yards’ erratic left-field wall and by Hays’ jump on the warning track. Chicago scored two runs against Shintaro Fujinami in the ninth, opening the inning with three straight hard-hit singles and ending the volatile reliever’s recent streak of success in low-leverage situations.
Santander’s brace down the right field line off left-handed reliever Aaron Bummer was his team’s 31st lead. He also leads the Orioles in home runs (25) and RBIs (77).
“He’s our guy in the middle of the lineup, and it’s like he comes in every time at a big moment,” Hays said of the switch hitter. “He achieves it, whether it’s a home run or like the ball tonight, he fought on the right side. He just finds a way to pick up the slack when we fight to get the guys on base and give him that opportunity. Most of the time, he comes to our rescue.
The series win is Baltimore’s fourth straight after sweeping the Oakland Athletics. The Orioles have won or tied 30 of 43 series this season, and they will enter their ninth sweep on Wednesday afternoon.
The Orioles have won six of their last seven games and nine of 11. Their 18-8 record in August helped fend off the Rays, who are 16-8 this month.
“We just try to go out and win every night, whether it’s May, June, July or August,” Kremer said. “We just try to be as resilient as possible.”
around the horn
- Norfolk triple-A outfielder Kyle Stowers was hit in the face by a pitch Tuesday and is being evaluated, the Orioles said. Stowers, the club’s No. 12 prospect according to Baseball America, opened the 2023 season in the majors but spent most of it in the minors. He entered the game cutting .232/.361/.470 for an .830 OPS with the Tides.
- Double-A Bowie outfielder Max Wagner was also removed from the game after an errant pitch hit him in the head, the Orioles said. It is also under evaluation. Wagner, the club’s No. 18 prospect, entered Tuesday averaging .230 with a .736 OPS this season between High-A Aberdeen and Bowie.
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