After rare rest, Orioles face another division leader, M’s

The Baltimore Orioles have already had as many off days in July — one — as they did in all of June.

Despite losing three pitchers (John Means, Kyle Bradish and Tyler Wells) to season-ending surgeries and enduring a season-worst, five-game skid, the Orioles finished June with a 17-12 record and tied with the New York Yankees atop the American League East.

The Orioles will open their July slate with a three-game road series against the AL West-leading Seattle Mariners on Tuesday.

“We had a little tough stretch in there — that’s hard not to have when you’re playing that much baseball against the teams we’ve played against,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said of the past month. “I think we’ve done really, really well. I think we’ve handled it well.

“We’ve had some pitching injuries and some things. We’ve had to have guys step up. We’ve had to play through nagging injuries. We’ve had a lot of things happen this month. Our guys have competed every night. … We’ve got to keep our foot on the gas. But the way our guys grinded through that month, I’m really proud of those guys.”

The Orioles posted series victories against the Tampa Bay Rays, Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies and Yankees and capped the month by taking three of four games against the defending World Series champion Texas Rangers, who swept them in an AL Division Series last fall.

“It’s been a tough stretch,” Baltimore shortstop Gunnar Henderson said. “Obviously, it didn’t end the way we wanted to (an 11-2 loss Sunday against the Rangers), but I felt like we did really well for the circumstances that we had, one off-day. I felt like we put ourselves in a good position to set us up for the last half.”

The Mariners have faltered of late, losing each of their past four series to see their division lead shrink to three games entering play Tuesday.

They had won nine straight home series, which matched the second-longest streak in franchise history, before dropping two of three to visiting Minnesota over the weekend. The Twins prevailed 5-3 on Sunday after Seattle had rallied from a three-run deficit.

“Timely hitting is the common thread,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “When we’re rolling and we’re winning all the series — certainly at home, we’ve been really good — it’s because we have been very timely with our hitting.”

The Mariners went just 4-for-34 with runners in scoring position against the Twins, including 4-for-18 on Sunday.

“Our timely hitting has been atrocious, to be honest,” said Mariners outfielder Luke Raley, who went 3-for-5 on Sunday. “It’s just not going the way we want it to right now.”

The Monday series opener is scheduled to feature a matchup of right-handers, Baltimore’s Grayson Rodriguez (9-3, 3.72 ERA) and Seattle’s George Kirby (7-5, 3.35).

Rodriguez faced the Mariners for the first time on May 18 in Baltimore, getting a no-decision in a 4-3 loss despite allowing just one hit over six scoreless innings. He walked three and struck out seven.

Kirby is 1-3 with a 4.02 ERA in five career starts against the Orioles. He took a 6-3 loss May 19 in Baltimore when he allowed five runs on nine hits over six innings. He struck out three and walked none.

–Field Level Media