The Baltimore Orioles swept the Cincinnati Reds in a three-game home series in the first week of September, but lost a home game against the Minnesota Twins and fell in back-to-back games to the Rays in Tampa Bay. Despite the short losing slump, the Orioles remained in control of the American League East division with an 8-1/2-game lead. Baltimore’s 82-59 record is second best in the entire AL, trailing only the Los Angeles Angels at 86-55.

Nelson Cruz

Baltimore Orioles’ Nelson Cruz swings during a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins, Monday, Sept. 1, 2014, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Sept. 1: Baltimore Falls in Rubber Match Against Minnesota

The Orioles started the week (and the month of September) off by blowing their opportunity at a series sweep as they fell to the Twins, 6-4 in the last game of a four game series on Sept. 1 in Baltimore. Starter Kevin Gausman lasted into the eighth inning but surrendered five runs, including two in the eighth inning. Andrew Miller relieved Gausman but also gave up a run in the eighth. Nelson Cruz hit his 36th home run of the season but the rest of the team had just six hits total.

Sept. 2-4: Orioles Sweep Reds in Three Games

Jonathan Schoop

Baltimore Orioles’ Jonathan Schoop rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run in the third inning of an interleague baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds, Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Baltimore returned to their winning ways in Game One of a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds, 5-4. Starting pitcher Bud Norris was nearly perfect, allowing just four hits and no runs with seven strikeouts in six innings pitched. Second baseman Jonathan Schoop went the yard with a home run and the Orioles led 5-0 after seven innings. But relief pitcher Darren O’Day gave up four runs in the eighth inning,giving the Reds a chance at a comeback. Fortunately for Baltimore, designated closer Zack Britton came in during the ninth inning to settle things down and close out the game for his 32nd save of the season.

There was no threat of a comeback in Game Two of the series as the Orioles shut out the Reds, 6-0. Schoop hit another home run, and first baseman Chris Davis and catcher David Lough also hit home runs. But starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez was the star of the game, throwing a scoreless shutout. He lasted all nine innings and delivered eight strikeouts and just four hits allowed.

Baltimore sealed the series sweep in Game Three on Sept. 4 with a 9-7 win over the Reds. Schoop went the yard for the third straight game, and Cruz and catcher Hunter Hundley also had home runs. Chris Tillman got the start at pitcher and gave up three runs in six innings pitched, while Britton closed out the game in the ninth inning for his 33rd save of the year.

Orioles Rays Baseball

Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist (18) gets spy around by Baltimore Orioles’ Steve Pearce (28) on a fielder’s choice by Adam Jones during the first inning of a baseball game Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Backing up the play is shortstop Yunel Escobar. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

Sept. 5-6: Baltimore Loses Two Straight to Rays

The Orioles’ winnings ways came to an end with a 3-0 loss to the Rays in Game One on Sept. 5. Starting pitcher Wei-Yen Chen had a strong start to the game and allowed only four hits and no runs in six innings pitched. But relievers Ryan Webb and Evan Meek gave up three runs in the eighth inning to give the Rays the win.

Game Two of the series played out in similar fashion. Gausman gave the Orioles a strong performance, allowing just two runs through the first seven innings. But the Orioles blew the game late in the ninth inning as the Rays scored the game winning run on a passed ball from Hundley.

Next up:
the Orioles will try to avoid a series sweep against the Rays on Sept. 7, and thereafter will travel to Boston to face the Red Sox in a three-game series from Sept. 8 to Sept. 10. Baltimore will then host the New York Yankees in a four-game series from Sept. 12 to Sept. 14.

Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor