Orioles hope to extend magical run, Cubs’ woes

The surging Baltimore Orioles are amid their longest winning stretch in 23 years.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Cubs find themselves in another skid.

The visiting Orioles can record a 10th straight victory by handing the Cubs their sixth consecutive defeat on Wednesday night.

A year removed from losing 110 games, the Orioles recorded a ninth straight win, 4-2 over the Cubs in Tuesday’s opener of a two-game interleague set.

During its nine-game winning streak — the club’s longest since a 13-game run in September 1999 — Baltimore has outscored its opponents 45-29 and has 26 extra-base hits and a 3.14 ERA.

According to STATS, the Orioles are the second team in major league history — the first since the 1890 Louisville Colonels — to post a winning streak of nine or more games after losing at least 110 the previous season. A winner in 20 of its last 29 games, Baltimore hasn’t been .500 or better this late in a full season since early September 2017.

“We have a lot of good factors to contribute to winning and having success, and that’s all you ask for,” Baltimore reliever Austin Voth told MASN.

Infielder Ramon Urias certainly has been a key contributor of late for the Orioles. After homering for one of his three hits Tuesday, Urias is 10-for-23 with eight RBIs in his last seven games.

Since being recalled from Triple-A Norfolk on June 25, scheduled Baltimore starter Spenser Watkins (2-1, 4.15 ERA) has allowed three runs — two earned — and 12 hits to go 2-0 over 17 2/3 innings over three starts. He has struck out 12 in that stretch.

The right-hander yielded one of those runs in a career-high 6 2/3 innings in last Wednesday’s 2-1 victory against Texas.

“Any time you can push yourself is a fantastic feeling,” Watkins told the Orioles’ official website. “I’m more so grateful for being given the opportunity to give the team a chance to win.”

The Cubs, meanwhile, have led in four of their last five contests, including 2-0 on Tuesday, but are winless during that stretch. It’s the third time this season that Chicago has lost at least five in a row. Chicago is batting .191 during this current skid and has three or fewer runs in four of those games.

“We’ve got to get runs with runners in scoring position. Get runs with men on base,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “Just got to continue to grind out at-bats.”

Despite Chicago’s recent offensive struggles, first-time All-Star Ian Happ homered Tuesday and is batting .331 with 19 RBIs at home this season.

Reinstated from the paternity list, Justin Steele (3-5, 4.13 ERA) will take the ball for the Cubs on Wednesday.

The left-hander has allowed a run in each of his last two starts, spanning 11 2/3 innings. He gave up one of those runs, two hits and four walks while striking out nine through 6 2/3 innings of Chicago’s 5-2, 10-inning loss at Milwaukee on July 4.

While Steele fared relatively well in that road contest, he’s been stellar in going 2-0 with a 2.12 ERA in his last six home starts.

–Field Level Media