O's pick up where they left off with sixth straight win

July 15th, 2023

BALTIMORE -- The mini-vacation was over. The time to return to work had come.

The Orioles held an optional workout at Camden Yards on Thursday, a day before the second half of the 2023 season was set to get underway. Attendance may not have been mandatory, but a large number of players still showed up.

With the All-Star break winding down, the O’s were ready to go again -- and for good reason. Baltimore was one of the best clubs in baseball during the first half, which it ended on a five-game winning streak.

“Guys are wanting to get back after it,” manager Brandon Hyde said Friday afternoon. “I think the energy level in our clubhouse is great. I love the way we finished the first half. ... That was a good feeling going into the break.”

The positive vibes picked right back up Friday night at Camden Yards, where the Orioles pushed their win streak to six with a 5-2 victory in the series opener vs. the Marlins. hit a pair of home runs, also went deep and notched eight strikeouts over six innings of one-run ball.

Baltimore (55-35) cut its deficit in the American League East standings to 1 1/2 games behind first-place Tampa Bay (58-35), which was idle due to a rainout in Kansas City. The O’s are also now a season-high 20 games above .500 -- their highest mark since the end of the 2014 campaign, when they were 96-66.

“The break was great,” Kremer said, “but everybody was itching to get back.”

Kremer, who fanned a career-high 10 batters over seven dominant innings in a win vs. the Yankees in his final start of the first half, turned in another terrific showing. His lone blemish came in the third, when he gave up a two-out RBI single to Bryan De La Cruz. However, the right-hander bounced back by striking out Jesús Sánchez, as Miami left the bases loaded.

That began a stretch in which Kremer retired nine consecutive Marlins batters, and 10 of the final 11 he faced, as the 27-year-old recorded his third quality start in four outings.

The game was tied at 1 until the fourth, when both Mullins and Frazier hit solo shots off Miami starter Sandy Alcantara. Mullins opened the inning with his ninth homer of the year, which was his first since May 23 (prior to a 3 1/2-week stint on the injured list due to a right groin strain). Frazier’s home run was his 11th of the season, setting a new career high.

Not long after, Frazier hit his 12th homer of 2023, as the 31-year-old second baseman belted a two-run blast in the eighth for his first multi-HR performance in 905 career big league games.

There have been many reasons for the Orioles’ strong play. Frazier’s power has been among the most shocking, as it’s not something Baltimore was expecting to get when it signed him to a one-year, $8 million deal this past offseason.

“Yeah, it’s surprising.” Hyde said. “For him to get some big homers like this for us this year, it’s been huge for us.”

Frazier’s first homer on Friday traveled a Statcast-projected 413 feet -- his first this season to go more than 397. It was tied for the fifth longest of his 55 career home runs.

Frazier’s second home run may have been shorter (396), but it was the more crucial of the two. In the top of the eighth, the Marlins had cut the Orioles’ lead to 3-2 on Jorge Soler’s solo shot off Yennier Cano, before Frazier answered with his two-run homer in the bottom of the inning.

Both of the blasts can be attributed to the work done in the batting cage all year by Frazier, who can tell something special may be happening in Baltimore this season.

“We know we’re good. We have a really dangerous lineup, from one through nine to even every guy on the bench is dangerous. The guys pitching, they’ve shown up all year long,” Frazier said. “We know we’re a complete team, but we’re going to take it one day at a time and see where we’re at at the end of this thing.”

With large goals in sight, the O’s continue to have fun in their pursuit of their first postseason berth since 2016, which they were eager to resume.

“We’ve got another half,” Kremer said, “and we’re hoping to produce the same thing we did the first half.”