CHICAGO—The Orioles left Chicago after achieving their third consecutive series sweep and running their win streak to 10 games with a 7-1 win over the Cubs before 29,529 at Wrigley Field on Wednesday night.
Their current winning streak, which began on July 3rd with a win in the final game of a three-game series at Minnesota, has included a four-game sweep of Texas, three wins over the Los Angeles Angels and two wins against Chicago.
The winning streak is their longest since a 13-game run from September 7th-22nd, 1999, and their three series sweeps in a row are the first since April 22nd-May 1st, 2005 when they won eight straight games.
The Orioles are 45-44. The last time they were a game over .500 this late in the season was September 8th 2017 when they were 71-70.
“I’m just really happy with how we’re playing,” manager Brandon Hyde said.
The Orioles were buoyed by hundreds of fans who traveled from Baltimore for this series and loudly cheered for their team during their two games here.
After an off day on Thursday, they’ll play three games at the Tampa Bay Rays, the first of 10 against the Rays and New York Yankees. After this weekend’s series, the Orioles will relax during the four-day All-Star break.
Spenser Watkins (3-1) allowed one run on four hits in five-plus innings for the win.
“Spenser was fantastic, setting the tone, putting zeroes up early,” Hyde said.
“Every single guy plays for each other,” Watkins said. “It says a lot about the guys in the clubhouse as well as the guys leading us as well as our fans. We feel every bit of Birdland—especially here. You’ve got ‘O’s’ chants going on at Wrigley Field. That’s pretty cool. This team is coming together as a whole, and it’s really fun to see.”
Dillon Tate, Cionel Pérez, Joey Krehbiel and Bryan Baker each pitched scoreless innings.
Pérez has been particularly impressive. He’s faced 19 batters in six appearances this month and retired each of them.
“It’s been a great month for me, no doubt,” Pérez said through a translator. “I think the biggest key to my success has been my control.”
The Orioles raced to a 3-0 lead in the first. Cedric Mullins led with a single and moved to third on Ryan Mountcastle’s one-out single. Mullins and Mountcastle scored on Anthony Santander’s double against Justin Steele (3-6).
Austin Hays, who began the game in a 3-for-42 slump, singled to left. Ian Happ had trouble handling the ball, allowing Santander to score. The three runs in the first equaled a season high for the Orioles.
Hays had four hits, a double and three singles. He’s been suffering from a sore right wrist.
“Haysy’s grinding with the wrist a little bit, and some bad luck, too, He’s hit some balls hard,” Hyde said. “He just doesn’t have the results, found some holes and swing the bat the way he did.”
Rougned Odor walked to begin the second. With one out, Steele walked Mullins. Trey Mancini doubled to left, scoring Odor. Mullins was originally called safe, but on a challenge, the call was reversed, and the Orioles led 4-0.
Watkins allowed a leadoff double to left by Nelson Velázquez in the third. Santander attempted to make a diving catch, and had trouble getting up, but after Hyde and head athletic trainer Brian Ebel examined his left wrist, he remained in the game.
“At first, I was concerned,” Santander said through a translator. “I started touching my wrist and I couldn’t really feel anything, but thankfully it wasn’t anything major.”
Santander first played for the Orioles in 2017, and he’s seen countless bad losses. Now, he’s finally experiencing team success.
“Honestly, I’m really happy, just having the young guys around brings a lot of energy,” Santander said. “Because of that we have great chemistry to go along with that. Pairing that with hard work, it’s been a lot of success that we’ve been experiencing. It’s helped us be aggressive throughout this stretch.”
Christopher Morel walked, and both runners moved up on Rafael Ortega’s grounder to second, but Watkins left them at second and third when he struck out Willson Contreras and Happ to end the third.
Steele worked six innings and retired the final 11 Orioles he faced.
Morel tripled with one out in the fifth and scored on Ortega’s sacrifice fly to center for the only run for Chicago (34-54).
The Orioles added three runs in the eighth on a double by Hays, an RBI double by Adley Rutschman, a run-scoring single by Odor and a balk by Chicago pitcher Daniel Norris.
“Orioles fans travel. They showed up here these last two games,” Hyde said. “They were loud. It was a great feeling for our guys to come off the field and have so many Orioles fans behind the dugout. They were really into it. Great energy in the ballpark, and our fans really showed up.”
Notes: The Orioles play three games at Tampa Bay beginning Friday night. They’ve yet to announce their starters. …High-A Aberdeen’s game with Jersey Shore was suspended in the bottom of the sixth with the IronBirds trailing 6-3 due to light failure from Tuesday’s storm. Heston Kjerstad was 1-for-2 in his Aberdeen debut.