Over the weekend, the Orioles rode the youth train to a 3-1 series win against the Yankees. The O’s seek to keep the momentum rolling, as they pay a visit to Citi Field for a two-game series with the New York Mets.
The Orioles entered the Yankees series struggling on offense and with pitching. Over the course of the four games, however, the Orioles scored 22 runs, while giving up only 11.
The Orioles sit in fourth place in the AL East, eight games behind the Rays. They are currently 19-21, 1.5 games out of the last playoff spot in the American League, a spot held by the Yankees.
The team has 20 games left to play, including four more against the Yankees in a series that begins on Thursday. Over their last 10 games, the Orioles are 5-5, while the Yankees are 3-7.
The Mets are coming off a four-game series split with the Phillies and find themselves two games out of the last playoff spot in the National League, currently occupied by the Marlins. At 19-23, the Mets have 18 games left to play but none against the two teams ahead of them. The Mets have gone 4-6 in their last 10.
The Orioles were dealt a huge blow on Saturday, when their top offensive star Anthony Santander was placed on the I.L. with an oblique strain that could possibly end his season. However, there are young bats that seem to be poised to take his place and keep the Orioles’ offense on track.
Over the last 10 games, the Orioles are batting .269/.333/.422, while scoring 4.6 runs per game. This is a marked improvement over their previous 10 games, in which they went .257/.315/.429, while scoring 4.1 runs a game. On the season, the Orioles are 6th in the AL in runs per game with 4.8 and second in batting average with a .261.
With the injury to Santander, former first round pick D.J. Stewart has stepped up to lead the offense. Stewart entered the series with 22 plate appearances and zero hits, though he did record six walks. During the four-game series, Stewart went 4-for-9 with three walks, three home runs and four RBI.
Since his callup on August 21, Ryan Mountcastle has shown that he belongs in the big leagues, slashing .333/.397/.549, while hitting three home runs and driving in 11 in 51 at-bats. Mouncastle went 4-for-10 with a home run and six RBI against the Yankees.
Also over the last 10 games, Renato Núñez has contributed five home runs and Rio Ruiz has batted .290.
The Mets offense has certainly carried the load for the team over the last 10 games. Though the team has gone 4-6, the offense has scored 6.5 runs per game and slashed .307/.362/.517.
At the plate, Michael Conforto has been on fire, batting .429/.455/.714 in his last 10, while hitting two home runs and driving in 12.
Slugger Pete Alonso is also beginning to heat up, having hit four of his 10 home runs in the last six games, while batting .292 after starting the season hitting .208 over his first 36 games.
Historical Oriole killer Robinson Canó has hit a mini slump, going hitless over his last 17 at-bats after going 3-for-9 against the Orioles in their last series. This team put up 30 runs in their series against the Phillies, so the Oriole pitchers will need to be on top of their game.
Speaking of Oriole pitching, John Means, again, looks to turn his sophomore season around, one in which he currently holds a 0-3 record and a 8.10 ERA. With his velocity up and command down, Means simply needs to feel the baseball more as he did last season.
To be fair, having to workout how he did in the offseason, throwing pitches against a mattress due to no one to help during the lockdown, is a tough situation, as it has been for every player this season.
Pitching against a Mets lineup, one that can hit you hard, command is crucial. Keeping the ball down and out of the wheel house of players like Pete Alonso, who is also heating up as of late, and throwing strikes that don’t hang over the middle of the plate will be the key for Means.
With the Oriole bullpen coming off the Yankees series with full confidence, if Means can give the Birds five solid innings, he will have a chance to win the game.
In the four-game set against the Yankees, the Orioles bullpen showed out, allowing just three runs in the series and shutting down the offense late to give the Orioles a chance. In this series against the Mets, the bullpen will be make or break.
The Oriole starter for game two has yet to be announced, but whomever that pitcher will be will face off against Rick Porcello. Another starter for the Mets who is prone to giving up a lot of runs, the Orioles pitching just needs to keep the offense in these games for a chance to win.
KEYS TO THE SERIES:
1. Starting pitching going at least five strong innings is essential
The Mets lineup can certainly put up some runs. If the Orioles want to win these ball games, the starters must limit the damage and eat some innings, allowing the bullpen to close out the game, as opposed to cleaning it up in the fourth inning.
2. Get on Met starters early
As seen in the last three games of the Yankees series, this Orioles team plays much better when scoring early. In two of three victories over the weekend, the O’s pitching was greatly benefited from leads that came before the third inning. When the bullpen came on with a lead, we won each of those three games.
3. Do not give away any outs
As a team, the Mets are third in the league in OPS, proving they will get around the bases. Not giving up any extra outs or base runners is crucial against a team that all season has taken advantage of those situations, as they also lead the league in team batting average. Limit the traffic on the base paths and keep scoring under control.
Stay posted for The Baltimore Battery’s gameday lineups later this afternoon. You can catch the game with first pitch starting at 7:10 p.m. EST!
Let’s Go O’s!