After the Orioles concluded their series with the Kansas City Royals on May 4th with a wild 13-10 win, they were 21-10, an impressive record.
Skeptics pointed out that the Orioles had compiled many of those 21 wins against some of the worst teams in baseball and wanted to see how they would play against the better teams that awaited.
Sixteen games later, they’re 31-16.
After losing two close games at Atlanta, the team with the best record in the National League, the Orioles lost the first game of a three-game series at home to Tampa Bay, which has the best record in baseball.
They rebounded to win the final two games of the series with the Rays, beat Pittsburgh in two of three games, split four games with Shohei Ohtani, Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels, and this weekend pulled off their most improbable wins of the season.
The Orioles recorded a three-game sweep of the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, the first time they’ve swept Toronto in Canada since April 22nd-24th, 2005.
This weekend featured a standout performance from Kyle Gibson on Friday night in a 6-2 win, and a 6-5 win in 10 innings on Saturday that featured an unlikely three-run, game-tying home run by Ryan O’Hearn in the eighth inning against one of baseball’s best closers, Jordan Romano.
On Sunday with manager Brandon Hyde resting three of his best relievers — Bryan Baker, Yennier Cano and Félix Bautista — the Orioles pulled off an 8-3 win in 11 innings.
After Dean Kremer pitched 5 1/3 serviceable innings (one run, nine hits, seven strikeouts, two walks), Hyde used Cionel Pérez, Mychal Givens, Danny Coulombe, Austin Voth and Mike Baumann.
It was Givens’ first appearance of the season, and he walked two and allowed the game-tying run, a sacrifice fly by Matt Chapman.
Cedric Mullins had his third career five-hit game and drove in the go-ahead run in the 10th, and after Toronto tied it in the bottom of the 10th, drove in two more in the 11th.
Austin Hays had what turned out to be the game-winning hit in the 11th. Terrin Vavra had a two-run single and Mullins had a two-run double.
Last season, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit .329 with six home runs and 12 RBIs against the Orioles. In the three game series, Oriole pitching held him to one hit in 14 at-bats.
The win puts the Orioles just 2 ½ games behind the Rays (34-14), and they’re three games ahead of the Yankees (29-20), whom they play next. Boston (26-20) trails Tampa Bay by seven, and the Blue Jays (25-22) are improbably in last place in the American League East.
After an offday, the Orioles begin a three-game series at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday. Kyle Bradish (2-1, 3.90) will face Gerrit Cole (5-0, 2.01). The other pitching matchups will be Tyler Wells (3-1, 2.94) and Nestor Cortes (4-2, 5.21), and Gibson (5-3, 4.27) against Clarke Schmidt (2-4, 6.00).
The Orioles lost two of three games to New York in their first series at home.
Overall, the Orioles have won 12 series, lost three and split one. They’ve swept three series and are 15 games over .500 for the first time since they ended the 2016 season 16 games over. They’re currently on a pace to win 107 games.
Minor league update: Triple-A Norfolk was held to three hits in a 9-1 loss to Syracuse. Keegan Akin started and worked three perfect innings, striking out five. Second baseman Connor Norby hit his fourth home run.
Third baseman Coby Mayo drove in three runs, including his fifth home run, as Double-A Bowie beat Altoona, 5-2. First baseman Heston Kjerstad had two hits to raise his batting average to .318.
Justin Armbruester (2-1) allowed a run on four hits and reduced his ERA to 1.58.
Daniel Federman (2-1) allowed one run on six hits in five innings, striking out six, as High-A Aberdeen beat Winston-Salem, 6-1.
Leftfielder Isaac De Leon drove in three runs and second baseman Jackson Holliday had two hits and drove in a run, raising his average to .395.