O’s Gaming Blog: Looking For Two In A Row On Milwaukee

After a six-hit shutout on Day 1 in Baltimore, the Orioles seek their second straight victory tonight against the Milwaukee Brewers, a team that has won National League Central twice in the past four years. The Brewers won 95 games with a first-place finish last season and won 96 games finishing atop their division in 2018.

Milwaukee has made the playoffs four years in a row, and the Brewers are one of only five teams to have made the playoffs in at least each of the past four years. They join the Los Angeles Dodgers (9), Houston Astros (5), New York Yankees (5) and Atlanta Braves (4). Milwaukee’s 95 wins a season ago fell just short of a franchise record (96 in 2011 and 2018), then they lost in four games to the Braves in the National League Division Series.

Yesterday was the fourth time the Orioles faced the Brewers in Baltimore’s home opener and the O’s are now 2-2. They beat Milwaukee 10-0 in 1973 and lost 12-0 in 1988 at Memorial Stadium. They lost 7-0 in 1995 at Camden Yards.

The Opening Day victory via a 2-0 score to start the Orioles’ 30th anniversary season at Oriole Park matched the score they earned in their first game at the ballpark. On April 6, 1992, right-hander Rick Sutcliffe fired the Orioles to a 2-0 win in a game that lasted just over two hours. This one was much longer — three hours and 24 minutes — but still felt great around Birdland after the 0-3 start against Tampa Bay.

When Cedric Mullins smoked a 109mph liner to right center for a two-run single in the second O, it was the clutch shot the team was looking for. The Orioles had been 2 for 25 with runners in scoring position for the year up to that point.

The O’s offense has scored just six points in four games, scoring one, three, zero and two in order against the Rays and Brewers. Baltimore’s batting average is .208 for 12th in the American League, with an OBP of .299 for eighth, a hitting percentage of .308 tied for 12th, and a team OPS of .607 that ranks 12th.

Milwaukee isn’t getting much to start the new year either. At 1-3, they are last in their division and were shut out for the second time in three games on Monday. They have a .202 team batting average with a .303 OBP, .331 slugging and .634 team OPS. They scored nine points in four games.

The Orioles have posted five shutouts in 2021. But three of their last six wins dating back to 2021 have come by shutout. On September 20, 2021, they won Philadelphia 3-0, and three days later beat Texas 2-0.

Right-hander Spenser Watkins (2-7, 8.07 ERA) will make his first start of the year and 11th of his career tonight. Watkins had a 10.31 ERA in nine home games last year. He was just added to the roster on Monday ahead of the opening day game.

Southpaw Eric Lauer (7-5, 3.19 ERA in 2021) starts for the Brew Crew. Lauer, 26, was a first-round pick, No. 25 overall, out of Kent State by San Diego in the 2016 draft. He struggled in spring training, allowing nine points (eight earned) in 6 2/3 sleeves.

But last season he pitched 118 2/3 innings, allowing 94 hits with 1,138 WHIPs. He allowed 1.2 of nine home runs with a 3.1 walk rate and an 8.9 strikeout rate. Milwaukee went 10-10 in his 2021 starting assignments. In 12 second-half games, Lauer was 4-1 with a 2.60 ERA and .963 WHIP.

He throws his fastball 45% of the time with an average speed of 92.6 mph, using his cutter 19%, curveball 15%, change 11% and slider 10%.

Outfielder Anthony Santander reached base four times Monday with two hits and two walks, and is 5-for-10 with four walks for the season. Yesterday marked the seventh time in his career that he had safely reached at least four plate appearances in a game and the first since April 4, 2021 in Boston. He ranks third in the majors with a .667 OBP, fourth with a 1.567 OPS and seventh with a .900 slugging percentage through the first five days of the year. His single in the seventh inning had an exit speed of 111.2 mph, the hardest hit ball by an Oriole so far in 2022.

The Orioles have walked 11 in the last two games and are fifth in the American League in walks so far.

About Jimmie P. Ricks

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