The Orioles, who are playing pennant-race baseball in September, posted an 8-5 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday to take two of three games in Phoenix.
First-place Baltimore (85-51) stayed 2 1/2 games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East.
Meanwhile, the Angels (64-73) suffered a series sweep by the Oakland Athletics, the team with the second-worst record in the majors. The Angels led 3-0 in the sixth inning Sunday, but errors and poor pitching led to a collapse and a 10-6 victory for the A’s.
The Orioles have surprised baseball pundits by staying in contention all season with their mix of exciting young stars and veterans. Baltimore moved into first in the AL East on July 19 and stubbornly has stayed there.
The Angels thought they were playoff contenders at the Aug. 1 trade deadline, when they dealt prospects for veteran reinforcements on a roster that had been ravaged by injuries.
It didn’t work. The Angels went 8-19 in a wretched August that saw them waive six players last week in a salary dump aimed at getting the club under the 2023 luxury tax.
The Orioles, meanwhile, went a blistering 18-9 in August, making Brandon Hyde an early favorite for AL manager of the year. Hyde has Baltimore in line to return to the postseason for the first time since 2016.
Orioles right-hander Grayson Rodriguez (4-3, 5.03 ERA) will take the mound Monday. Rodriguez will face Angels lefty Kenny Rosenberg (0-0, 6.43), a call-up from Triple-A who has thrown only seven innings of relief in the majors this year. Rosenberg has yet to face Baltimore in his career.
Rodriguez has pitched like an ace over his last seven starts, going 2-1 with a 2.32 ERA and allowing just 26 hits over 42 2/3 innings.
“He’s pitching with a lot of confidence right now,” Hyde said of Rodriguez after he permitted one hit over six shutout innings last Monday against the Chicago White Sox in his last start. “We’re throwing the ball well. Our starting rotation has done a fantastic job, and I’m happy with the way we’ve pitched.”
Rodriguez may look like a different pitcher than the one the Angels faced on May 15. He lasted just 3 1/3 innings and allowed eight earned runs on nine hits in his team’s 9-5 loss. Shohei Ohtani hit a 456-foot, three-run homer off Rodriguez, and Chad Wallach also went deep off him in that game.
Hyde remains without closer Felix Bautista (33 saves), who went on the injured list on Aug. 26 with an injury to his ulnar collateral ligament. Without him, Yennier Cano and Jorge Lopez will pitch the high-leverage innings from the Orioles‘ bullpen.
Manager Phil Nevin simply hopes his Angels will play with some of the crispness they displayed before August.
“We got swept, we lost,” Nevin said of the weekend series with the A’s. “Any time you lose, it’s frustrating, and the way you lose can add to that. But you’ve got to make the good pitch, you’ve got to make the good plays after mistakes. That’s what we need to start doing again.”
—Field Level Media
Field Level Media