Only the most optimistic Oriole fans could have imagined the Orioles would play six games at Toronto’s Rogers Centre and Yankee Stadium and win five.
But that’s what happened.
The Orioles swept three games in Toronto for the first time since 2005 before winning two of three against the Yankees.
Their 3-1 win over New York on Thursday night gave them a 33-17 record. They’re 16 games over .500 for the first time since they ended the 2016 season 89-73.
Perhaps most impressive, the Orioles are 11-7 against the American League East.
In 2023, the Orioles play 52 games against the AL East, down from 76 in recent years.
Now, they get a break from the East and play 15 straight games against Texas, Cleveland, San Francisco, Milwaukee and Kansas City before Toronto makes its first visit to Baltimore from June 13th-15th.
This season’s schedule is radically different from those in recent years. Not only are there fewer games against the AL East, but the Orioles will play every National League team.
The series against the Blue Jays and Yankees were the first of only two times the Orioles must face consecutive American League East teams. The Orioles host the Yankees from July 28th-30th and play at the Blue Jays July 31st-August 3rd.
This weekend’s series against the Rangers should be another fascinating one. Texas has compiled a 31-18 record and leads the World Series champion Houston Astros by three games in the American League West.
The Rangers are managed by Bruce Bochy, who ended a three-year retirement. Their record is the third-best in baseball, trailing only the Tampa Bay Rays and the Orioles.
Texas has scored 310 runs, the most in baseball, an average of more than six per game, and the Rangers have an impressive 3.77 ERA.
On Thursday night, Kyle Gibson allowed just two hits over seven scoreless innings. Gibson (6-3) walked four and struck out three. On Sunday, he allowed a run on five hits in seven innings at Toronto.
Mike Baumann retired each of the three hitters he faced, striking out two.
Yennier Cano recorded his fourth save, though he allowed his second run of the season and walked his first batter in 26 2/3 innings.
Anthony Santander was 3-for-3 with an RBI, and Austin Hays had two RBIs.
Cedric Mullins missed his first game of the season. Manager Brandon Hyde told reporters in New York it was for personal reasons.
The Orioles have not yet made a decision on relief pitcher Dillon Tate, whose 30-day rehab assignment has ended. Tate must either be activated by the Orioles or optioned to the minor leagues. He has a 14.04 ERA in 10 minor league games.
Grayson Rodriguez (6-1, 6.21) will face Jon Gray (4-1, 3.02) on Friday night.
The Orioles will wear their City Connect uniforms for the first time.
Wondering about attendance: The Orioles rank 21st in the major leagues in attendance. They’re averaging 19,668, which would project to just under 1.6 million. In 2022, they drew 1.368 million.
With the team playing so well and a holiday weekend, and three straight day games coming up on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, the crowds should be much larger.
Saturday’s 4:05 p.m. game features a Ryan Mountcastle bobblehead giveaway and a post-game concert by Andy Grammer.
With Memorial Day here, weeknight games will again start at 7:05 p.m. until after Labor Day.
In 2017, the Orioles drew just over 2 million fans for the sixth straight season. It seems unlikely that they’ll be able to draw that many this season, but with their excellent play, they may come close.
Minor league update: Drew Rom (4-3) allowed six runs on seven hits in 1 2/3 innings as Triple-A Norfolk lost to Memphis, 10-3.
First baseman Lewin Díaz hit his eighth home run.
Chayce McDermott allowed two runs on two hits in 5 2/3 innings as Double-A Bowie lost to Akron, 4-1.
McDermott (3-3) threw five hitless innings in Bowie’s combined no-hitter on Friday, bur walked six and struck out five.
The Baysox had just three hits. First baseman TT Bowens hit his second home run.
Jersey Shore beat High-A Aberdeen, 5-2. The IronBirds had just five hits.
Ramón Urías played third base in his second rehab game and was 1-for-4. Shortstop Jackson Holliday struck out with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth.
Single-A Delmarva had just two hits in its 2-0 loss to Lynchburg.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB