O’s Game Blog: The streak with Boston continues

The Orioles started a long homestand last night and they once again battled for the offense. They didn’t score until Ryan Mountcastle homered 423 feet in the bottom of the ninth in a 3-1 loss to Boston.

The Orioles (6-14) have now lost five straight. They’re also 3-4 at home (just 18 points), 3-8 on night, 3-4 in the opening games of the series, 1-11 when their opponent scores first, and 2-8 vs. American League East. The Red Sox improved to 9-12.

Right-hander Kyle Bradish had a strong major league debut, allowing three runs (two earned) and five hits in six innings on 81 pitches. But he took the loss as the Orioles were limited to five hits for the fourth time this year and the second time in three games.

The Orioles are now 13-6 since 2008, when their starting pitcher made his major league debut.

Mountcastle’s second homer avoided a shutout and the blast had an exit speed of 111mph. Mountcastle produced three of the top 10 outing speeds in the game, as he also smoked a lineout at 106 and a single at 102 mph.

Boston’s third lacker, Rafael Devers, went 2-for-4 and produced four 100+ slaps. He drove a double at 113 mph, a groundout at 112, a single at 108.5 and a groundout at 101 mph.

Including last night’s loss, the Orioles have been held to two points or less 11 times in 20 games. On the plus side, Baltimore’s bullpen threw three scoreless innings, with Keegan Akin throwing 2 2/3 and Jorge López kicking out one. It was the seventh time this season the Orioles bullpen has pitched a scoreless game.

Last night’s DH Austin Hays went 2-for-3 with a walk and is now 8-for-18 (.444) with two home runs and six RBIs in his last five games. He has recorded six team-leading multi-hit performances in his last 13 games.

O right-hander Spenser Watkins (0-0, 2.97 ERA) is on the mound for Baltimore tonight for his fourth outing in 2022. He pitched 13 innings, allowing nine hits and four earned runs with seven walks on balls for five strikeouts.

Watkins, who went 2-7 with an 8.07 ERA and 1.701 WHIP last year, threw 57, 67 and 76 in his three games, building a little more each time. The Orioles are 1-2 in his starts. In his last outing, Saturday at Angel Stadium, he allowed three hits and two runs in five innings.

Watkins went to Driveline Baseball in Seattle last offseason and it helped him with a speed bump. His average fastball last year was 90.8 mph, and now it’s 92.5. But ironically, he throws his fastball less, going from 47% usage last season to 35% now. His fastball has also made gains in spin rate, and he now ranks in the top 24% of majors in fastball spin rate and is in the 40% in hard hit rate against. Watkins has also had major wins so far getting ground balls. His grounder rate has gone from 34% last year to 52% now.

In his last three starts, Watkins has allowed just one earned run, one earned run and two earned runs. He’s certainly not a great pitcher at bat, and in fact, he’s only had six hits and misses combined in his first two starts. Then he got seven swings and misses by Angels hitters last Saturday in Anaheim.

Here’s a crazy stat: Left-handed hitters are 0-for-24 this year against Watkins, who held left-handed hitters to 0-for-10 in Anaheim. But right-handed hitters are hitting .360 (9 for 25) against him with 1.208 OPS.

Right-hander Nate Eovaldi (1-0, 3.32 ERA) will make his fifth start for Boston. In 21 2/3 innings this year, he has allowed 21 hits and eight runs with three walks and 24 strikeouts.

But he has allowed seven home runs this year, including six out of three starts on the road. That gives him a 2.9 home run rate now, and it was 0.7 last season and 1.0 for his career. So the circuits allowed are up so far.

In his last start, Monday in Toronto, he allowed five hits and two runs, both on solo home runs, in seven innings on 72 pitches. In three road starts, he’s 1-0 with a 3.71 ERA and has walked two and fanned 18 in 17 innings. The Red Sox are 2-2 in his four starts.

Eovaldi went 1-1 with a 2.20 ERA in 16 1/3 innings last year against the Baltimore batters. In 15 career starts, he is 7-2 with a 3.74 ERA. In 77 innings, he walked 27, stoked 73 and has a WHIP of 1.416.

About Jimmie P. Ricks

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