Streaking O’s seek sweep of Pirates
The Baltimore Orioles have won five games in a row. The last time that happened this season, they ended up rifling off a 10-game winning streak.
The Orioles will try to maintain their momentum as they go for a three-game sweep of the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates in the series finale Sunday afternoon.
The 6-3 outcome Saturday puts the Orioles on the verge of their second consecutive series sweep. Baltimore’s relievers combined for four no-hit innings, a notable achievement given how the makeup of the bullpen has been altered over the past week.
“Our bullpen is a little different right now,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Other guys are going to be pitching in big moments, and they answered the bell.”
While clutch hitting has come from some new sources — not to mention a pinch-hit, two-run double for Ryan McKenna on Saturday — the offensive uptick might be overshadowing something that has generally given the Orioles a boost all season.
“Our defense is not talked about enough,” Hyde said. “How well we’ve played defensively, that’s won us a ton of games.”
Baltimore has won enough to climb within a game of the final wild-card position in the American League.
The Pirates have been battling numerous factors that seem to put them in binds. They began the series with the anxiety of potentially having just one catcher available, but the series opener went into a pregame rain delay and Jose Godoy made it in time from Triple-A so that there was another catcher on board.
Those types of situations have been concerning for the Pirates, who often are juggling their lineups. Outfielder Bligh Madris has filled in as the first baseman at times in this series.
“Just trying to get comfortable over there, challenging myself on the work,” Madris said. “It’s paying off.”
The Pirates have to deal with all sorts of challenges. An enthusiastic crowd attended Saturday’s game, pulling for the Orioles on a weekend that’s dubbed as a celebration of the team’s 30 years at Camden Yards.
“That was the best crowd we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Hyde said. “They were loud. They were energetic. We appreciate it, and it was a lot of fun for our guys to play in front of that.”
Right-hander Spenser Watkins (4-1, 3.80 ERA) will be Baltimore’s starter Sunday. He has won three of his last four starts, giving up just one run in each of the victories.
He hasn’t issued a walk in his last two starts covering a total of 11 1/3 innings. The Orioles have won six of the last seven times that Watkins has been on the mound.
The Pirates will use right-hander Bryse Wilson (1-6, 6.20) as their starter. Wilson is 0-3 with a no-decision in his last four road starts.
Wilson has been hurt by home runs, giving up three long balls in two separate starts across his last six assignments.
Watkins has never faced the Pirates. Wilson gave up one run in his only outing against the Orioles in one inning of relief in 2020 while with the Atlanta Braves.
–Field Level Media