The Baltimore offense woke up from its slumber on Monday night. It remains to be seen whether it happened soon enough to keep the Orioles in the playoff picture.
The Orioles will continue their three-game series with the visiting Atlanta Braves on Tuesday. Baltimore won the first meeting 14-1, setting a season high for runs scored and handing Atlanta its most lopsided defeat of the season.
The pitching matchups for the second game of the series features Atlanta’s Huascar Ynoa (0-0, 6.75 ERA) against Baltimore’s Thomas Eshelman (3-0, 3.96 ERA).
Baltimore (21-26) broke a five-game losing streak on Monday. The Orioles are nine games behind Tampa Bay in the American League East and five games behind Cleveland and New York for the final playoff spot.
“Everybody is taking this series pretty seriously,” said Baltimore pitcher John Means after Sunday’s loss to the Yankees. “I really do have confidence we’re going to bounce back.”
Renato Nunez said, “We want to keep playing. Everybody is here to win.”
The Orioles finally broke out of its offensive malaise in the opener against Atlanta. Baltimore had 15 hits, sent 12 men to the plate in a nine-run inning, and hit four home runs in a game for the third time.
The hottest guy in the lineup has been shortstop Jose Iglesias. In his first 31 games with Baltimore, Iglesias is batting .370 (44-for-119) and went 4-for-4 with four RBIs and three runs scored in Monday’s rout.
“It’s been a solid, consistent year and I’m glad to be a part of it,” Iglesias said. “We had our opportunities in New York, but we were able to leave it in the past. There’s nothing we could do but turn the page.”
Designated hitter Ryan Mountcastle leads AL rookies with a .364 batting average. He has 18 RBIs since joining the club on Aug. 21 and has reached safely in 17 of his first 22 games.
Eshelman will make his fourth start, the last coming in the first game of a doubleheader with the Yankees on Sept. 4. He pitched two innings and allowed one run, taking the loss in a 6-0 setback. He is 1-0 with a 4.76 ERA as a starter. He has never faced the Braves.
Ynoa has appeared in seven games, three as a starter. In his last start on Sept. 4 against Washington, Ynoa was smacked around for six runs on 2 1/3 innings. His problem is lack of control; Ynoa has allowed 16 hits and 12 walks in 14 2/3 innings.
But the Braves’ season-long struggles with assembling a rotation may be coming to an end. Veteran Cole Hamels will make his season debut on Wednesday, and ace Max Fried returns from a stint on the injured list with back spasms on Friday. Combined with rookie Ian Anderson and veteran Josh Tomlin, the Braves may be able to use a four-man rotation for the rest of the season.
“(Those four) will get the majority of the starts, which is a good thing,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said.
Atlanta (28-20) leads the National League East by 2 1/2 games over Miami and four games over Philadelphia.
–Field Level Media