The surging Baltimore Orioles are not the ideal opponent to help the Chicago Cubs end their latest skid.
Looking to win nine in a row for the first time in nearly 23 years, the visiting Orioles can send the Cubs to their fifth straight defeat Tuesday night.
Currently the talk of the majors, Baltimore has outscored its opponents 41-27 during its current eight-game winning streak. The club is within a game of .500 for the first time since starting 0-1.
After sweeping a four-game set of the Los Angeles Angels with Sunday’s 9-5 victory that concluded a 7-0 homestand, the Orioles are in position to win nine straight for the first time since a 13-game run in September 1999.
“It’s crazy,” first baseman Ryan Mountcastle, batting .324 in his last 10 games, told the Orioles’ website. “I mean, it seems like each and every day we just go out there and we’re gonna win. I don’t know. Just this weird aura or vibe.
“I don’t know what’s going on. But it’s awesome.”
What’s for certain is the Orioles are a confident group that has won 19 of the last 28. With a pair of hits Sunday, Baltimore’s Trey Mancini is batting .324 during a nine-game hitting streak. Meanwhile, teammate Ramon Urias is 7-for-19 with six RBIs in his last six contests.
Mancini and Urias each hit one of the five home runs Baltimore recorded during a 9-3 home win over the Cubs on June 7. Their scheduled meeting the next day was postponed due to rain.
Baltimore’s Jordan Lyles (5-7, 4.50 ERA) was slated to start that rained-out June 8 contest, and is again scheduled to face Chicago on Tuesday. The right-hander has yielded only one run in each of his two July starts, surrendering a total of nine hits over 12 1/3 innings.
Lyles is 3-3 with a 5.91 ERA in nine career starts against the Cubs, but last faced them in 2019 while with Pittsburgh. Chicago All-Star Willson Contreras is 4-for-7 with a double and two homers versus Lyles.
While Contreras is the majors’ top slugging catcher (.503), he’s 0-for-13 in his last three games for the Cubs, who were swept in a four-game road series against the Los Angeles Dodgers over the weekend.
Chicago went 8-4 while winning four consecutive series versus St. Louis, Cincinnati, Boston and Milwaukee prior to visiting Los Angeles, where it led in three of the four contests. The Cubs blew leads of 5-0 and 8-3 during Sunday’s 11-9 defeat to drop 18 games below .500.
“We’re saying this over and over and over, but we’re close,” said fellow All-Star Ian Happ, who is batting .333 at Wrigley Field this season.
“We keep putting ourselves in positions to have chances to win — and that’s half the battle.”
Adrian Sampson (0-0, 2.91 ERA) will make his fourth start after he allowed a home run and three other hits and struck out five without a walk in 5 2/3 innings of Chicago’s 2-1 victory at Milwaukee on Wednesday.
The right-hander’s only previous appearance against Baltimore came in relief for Texas in September 2019.
–Field Level Media