The Baltimore Orioles lost two in a row during the week of Aug. 18, but maintained a comfortable seven-game lead over the New York Yankees in the American League East.

The Orioles started off the week with three straight wins in a road series sweep of the Chicago White Sox, but suffered back-to-back losses during the first two games of a three-game road series with the Cubs in Chicago. The O’s held a 73-54 record, the third best in the A.L. behind only the Los Angeles Angels and the Oakland Athletics.

Nick Markakis

Aug. 18-20: O’s Sweep White Sox in Three-Game Series

Baltimore crushed the White Sox in Game One of a three-game set, an 8-2 victory on Aug. 18. The Orioles put the game away with a dominant fifth inning, during which they scored five unanswered runs, including a two-run homer by right fielder Nick Markakis. Shortstop J.J. Hardy and left fielder Nelson Cruz both went the yard as well, and starting pitcher Bud Norris delivered a solid performance, allowing only three hits and two runs in seven innings.

The Orioles secured another win during the late innings the following night, claiming a 5-1 victory in Game Two on Aug. 19. The Orioles scored three unanswered runs in the sixth inning and catcher Nick Hundley blasted a home run in the seventh inning to give the Birds an easy win. Chris Tillman was in control on the mound for nearly the entire game, striking out nine while giving up just three hits and one run in eight innings of work.

The White Sox mounted a stronger challenge in Game Three, but the Orioles still pulled out the series sweep with a 4-3 win on Aug. 20. Starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen gave up two runs in the first inning but settled down to throw a strong game with seven strikeouts and only one more run allowed in eight innings. Reliever Zack Britton earned his 27th save of the season and three different Orioles players hit home runs, including Cruz, first baseman Steve Pearce and center fielder Adam Jones.

Aug. 22-23: Orioles Fall in Two Straight to Cubs

The Orioles traveled across Chicago for a three-game set with the Cubs, but didn’t bring their winnings ways with them, falling in Game One, 4-1.  Baltimore’s batters struggled against Cubs pitcher and former Oriole Jake Arrieta, recording just five hits and one run at the plate. Cruz scored the lone run for the O’s, a homer in the seventh inning. Starting pitcher Kevin Gausman gave up three runs in just five innings of work.

Baltimore’s struggles continued the following day with a 7-2 loss in Game Two on Aug. 23. Starter Bud Norris allowed four runs in four innings, and the Orioles’ usually trusty bullpen was just as bad, as relief pitchers Ubaldo Jimenez and Tommy Hunter gave up three more runs through the final six innings.

Next-up: Baltimore will close out its road series with the Cubs in Chicago on Sunday, and then return home to face the Tampa Rays in a four-game home series from Aug. 25 to Aug. 28. The Orioles will host the Minnesota Twins in another four-game home series from Aug. 29 to Sept. 1.

Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor