Orioles beat Cubs 7-1, extend winning streak to 10 games

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CHICAGO – Anthony Santander hit a two-run double to spark Baltimore’s three-run first inning, Spenser Watkins and four relievers scattered six hits and the Orioles extended their winning streak to 10 games with a 7-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday night.

It’s the Orioles’ longest winning streak in a single season since they won 13 in a row from Sept. 7-22, 1999.

According to ESPN Stats & Info, the only team with a longer current drought without a double-digit win streak in a season is Miami, which has never had one.

With the victory, the Orioles (45-44) also went over the .500 mark for the first time since April 8, 2021, when they were 4-3. Baltimore finished off the game to chants of “Let’s Go O’s!” at Wrigley Field, where the Orioles were playing their first series since 2014.

“We feel every bit of Birdland, especially here,” Watkins said. “You have `O’ chants going on in Wrigley Field. That’s pretty cool.”

The Cubs lost their sixth consecutive game, their longest skid since dropping 10 straight games June 4-16.

Watkins (3-1) limited the Cubs to four hits in five-plus innings. Watkins is 3-0 with a 1.19 ERA in his last four starts since being recalled from Triple-A Norfolk on June 25. He allowed a single to Ian Happ to start the sixth and was lifted in favor of Dillion Tate.

“Spenser was fantastic,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “He set the tone. He put zeroes up early.”

Tate, Cionel Perez, Joey Krehbiel and Bryan Baker combined to allow two hits the rest of the way.

“We’re pitching with confidence,” Hyde said. “We’re aggressive. We’re pitching with emotion. I think our pitching has really turned the corner.”

Meanwhile, Cubs starter Justin Steele (3-6) – pitching on eight days rest after his girlfriend gave birth Monday to the couple’s first child – retired the final 11 batters he faced over six innings.

“The best of my life,” Steele said of the last few days. “Becoming a dad was just so special. Bawled my eyes out as soon as it happened. We decided on the name, Beau. Literally so ready to get back home to him right now and just love on him.”

But the damage was done in the first two innings. Three of the first four batters reached base, prompting pitching coach Tommy Hottovy to make a mound visit after Santander’s double. But Austin Hays followed with a single, and Santander scored after left fielder Happ misplayed the hit.

The Orioles extended their lead in the second when Trey Mancini hit a double to score Rougned Odor and Cedric Mullins, who was initially ruled to have beaten the relay throw from shortstop Nico Hoerner to catcher Willson Contreras. But a replay overturned the safe call on Mullins, and Steele got Ryan Mountcastle to ground to short to end the inning.

The Cubs scored their lone run off Watkins in the fifth when Christopher Morel tripled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Rafael Ortega.

The Orioles added three runs with two outs in the eighth on a double by Adley Rutschman, a single by Odor and a balk by reliever Daniel Norris.

HENDRICKS OUT INDEFINITELY

Cubs ace Kyle Hendricks will need at least two or three weeks before he can consider playing catch, manager David Ross said. Hendricks hasn’t pitched since July 5, when he threw only three innings at Milwaukee because of a right shoulder strain.

Hendricks, 32, missed a start in early June because of shoulder fatigue but still leads the team with 84 1/3 innings pitched.

HAPP HUMBLED BY EPSTEIN TEXT

Happ was moved by a congratulatory text message on his All-Star selection from Theo Epstein, the Cubs’ former president of baseball operations who oversaw his selection as the ninth overall pick in the 2015 draft.

“And I thanked him for giving me the chance here and to be able to do it in front of these fans and this city,” Happ said of Epstein, now a consultant with Major League Baseball.

Happ rebounded from a miserable 2021 season, when he had a slash line of .175/.284/.318 on Aug. 11.

“He’s becoming an all-around player, and I don’t know I could have said that last year,” Ross said.

RETURN OF THE STOLEN BASE

Jorge Mateo (22) and Mullins (18) have accounted for 40 of the Orioles’ 55 stolen bases, and Hyde will continue to give them the green light.

“Those two guys are such elite base stealers, it’s weapon for us, and a weapon for them,” Hyde said. “I still think it’s an important part of the game.”

MOVES

Cubs: Norris was activated from the 15-day injured list. RHP Matt Swarmer was optioned to Triple-A Iowa.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cubs: INF Nick Madrigal (left groin strain) will spend the rest of the week building strength and volume with the training staff in Chicago. … RHP Ethan Roberts underwent Tommy John surgery in Arlington, Texas.

UP NEXT

The Orioles haven’t named a starter for Friday’s series opener against the Rays.

The Cubs will start RHP Keegan Thompson in Thursday’s series opener against the Mets. Thompson allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings Friday in a 4-3 loss to the Dodgers.

Yankees star Judge hits 62nd homer to break Maris’ AL record

New York Yankees v Texas Rangers - Game Two
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ARLINGTON, Texas – Aaron Judge hit his 62nd home run of the season Tuesday night, breaking Roger Maris’ American League record and setting what some fans consider baseball’s “clean” standard.

The 30-year-old Yankees slugger drove a 1-1 slider from Texas right-hander Jesus Tinoco into the first couple of rows of seats in left field when leading off the second game of New York’s day-night doubleheader.

Maris’ 61 for the Yankees in 1961 had been exceeded six times previously, but all were tainted by the stench of steroids. Mark McGwire hit 70 for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998 and 65 the following year. Barry Bonds hit an MLB-record 73 for the San Francisco Giants in 2001, and the Chicago Cubs’ Sammy Sosa had 66, 65 and 63 during a four-season span starting in 1998.

McGwire admitted using banned steroids, while Bonds and Sosa denied knowingly using performing-enhancing drugs. Major League Baseball started testing with penalties for PEDs in 2004, and some fans – perhaps many – until now have considered Maris as holder of the legitimate record.

A Ruthian figure with a smile as outsized as his body, the 6-foot-7 Judge has rocked the major leagues with a series of deep drives that hearken to the sepia tone movie reels of his legendary pinstriped predecessors.

“He should be revered for being the actual single-season home run champ,” Roger Maris Jr. said Wednesday night after his father’s mark was matched by Judge. “I think baseball needs to look at the records and I think baseball should do something.”

Judge had homered only once in the past 13 games, and that was when he hit No. 61 last Wednesday in Toronto. The doubleheader nightcap in Texas was his 55th game in row played since Aug. 5.

After a single in five at-bats in the first game Tuesday, Judge was 3 for 17 with five walks and a hit by pitch since moving past the 60 home runs Babe Ruth hit in 1927, which had stood as the major league record for 34 years. Maris hit his 61st off Boston’s Tracy Stallard at old Yankee Stadium on Oct. 1, 1961.

Judge has a chance to become the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012. He leads the AL with 131 RBIs and began the day trailing Minnesota’s Luis Arraez, who was hitting .315.

The home run in his first at-bat put him back to .311, where he had started the day before dropping a point in the opener.

Judge’s accomplishment will cause endless debate.

“To me, the holder of the record for home runs in a season is Roger Maris,” author George Will said earlier this month. “There’s no hint of suspicion that we’re seeing better baseball than better chemistry in the case of Judge. He’s clean. He’s not doing something that forces other players to jeopardize their health.”