Baltimore took the rubber game of a three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday, with the 5-3 decision being its fifth victory in six contests. The Orioles are a season-high 31 games over .500, but that's only good enough for a two-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays in the East.
Cole Irvin (1-3, 4.66 ERA) is set to pitch the series opener for the Orioles against Kyle Freeland (5-13, 5.02) in a matchup of left-handers.
Irvin will make his 19th appearance of the season and his 11th start. In his past two games, both starts, he has gone five innings in each while allowing one run or none. While he got a no-decision each time, Baltimore won both games.
In his most recent outing, against the Oakland Athletics on Saturday, Irvin gave up a run on four hits and a walk with three strikeouts.
"Each time they give me the chance to take the ball, I'm leaving nothing behind," Irvin said after facing the A's, his former team. "Maybe that's part of the reliever side of things, getting that experience. But I'm having a lot of fun with this ballclub, and like I said, all that matters now is winning and winning a lot."
Freeland went from May 15 to Aug. 18 without a victory, a streak that combined some subpar efforts with several solid outings in which he got little or no run support.
In his latest start, Freeland allowed four runs on eight hits in five innings, but the Rockies surged to an 11-5 win over the Chicago White Sox.
"It's been awhile since I've had a win, so it's nice," Freeland said. "Offense came out swinging and put up runs early and often."
He next will face a Baltimore lineup that has produced seven or more runs in four of the past six games.
In the Orioles' Thursday win, Anthony Santander hit his third home run in two games since returning from a three-game absence caused by a back problem.
Cedric Mullins homered and doubled, and Adley Rutschman had three hits. The only down note for Baltimore was that Ryan Mountcastle's on-base streak ended at 28 games.
Mullins short-circuited a Blue Jays rally in the seventh when Danny Jansen doubled to center and tried to take third. Mullins bobbled the ball but still threw out the runner.
"I'm so impressed with just how we play the game," Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde said. "Run the bases hard, we have instincts, we're in the right spot defensively. For me, that's Cedric Mullins' best throw of his career. What a big play that was. We have good defenders at every position. That makes a huge difference."
The Rockies enter the series having lost four straight games and 11 of 14.
Colorado led the Rays 3-2 after five innings on Thursday, but Tampa Bay rallied late to complete a three-game sweep thanks to Josh Lowe's two-run homer in the eighth. Rockies pitchers have given up at least one homer in 11 straight games.
Rockies left fielder Nolan Jones went 3-for-4 with a three-run homer and a double on Thursday. He has nine RBIs in his past seven games.
"I think it's a good sign that we're here competing with these guys," Jones said after Colorado went into the late innings of each game at Tampa Bay either tied or ahead. "They're a good playoff team, and we were in every single game."
—Field Level Media