(Photo credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports)
The Baltimore Orioles will close their historic regular season Sunday when they host the Boston Red Sox.
Baltimore has captured its first American League East title since 2014, and a win Sunday would give the Orioles 102 victories for the first time since the 1979 AL pennant-winning team achievedthat total.
The Orioles (101-60) will be the first seed in the American League playoffs and will be idle until next Saturday when they host a divisional round game.
In front of their sixth sellout crowd of the season, the Orioles defeated the Red Sox 5-2 on Saturday night for their sixth win in the past seven games.
"Hopefully, the crowds continue to build and this place will be loud during the playoffs, and next year they'll feel the excitement also, I hope," Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. "It's been a lot of fun to play in front of crowds like tonight."
Baltimore's Kyle Bradish (12-7, 2.86 ERA) will oppose fellow right-hander Tanner Houck (5-10, 5.31) in the finale.
Bradish has tossed 14 scoreless innings over his past two starts, allowing five hits and striking out 13 while walking four. He blanked the Washington Nationals for eight innings on three hits on Tuesday in a 1-0 win.
"He's just becoming a complete pitcher," Hyde said of the 27-year-old Bradish. "It's incredibly impressive. He competes. It's a real competitive mindset. He doesn't think he should get hit. He's angry at himself when he makes mistakes, and he's hard to hit."
Bradish beat the Red Sox (77-84) on Sept. 8, but on April 25, he endured his worst start of the season against Boston, allowing seven runs in 2 1/3 innings. For his career, he is 1-4 with an 8.13 ERA in seven starts vs. the Red Sox.
Houck is coming off his worst effort of the season. Against the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday, he gave up seven runs -- six earned -- on 10 hits in three innings.
"Terrible," Houck said. "Slider wasn't very good, kept leaving it up, and that's one of my main two pitches. I didn't execute it as well as I should have. Take full responsibility in that."
He beat the Orioles in April but gave up five runs in 5 1/3 innings in the loss to them on Sept. 8. In his career, Houck is 3-3 with an ERA of 4.20 in eight appearances (four starts) against Baltimore.
On Saturday night, Baltimore's Ryan Mountcastle broke a scoreless tie with a seventh-inning double and then scored to make it 2-0, and Anthony Santander's two-run single capped a three-run eighth inning.
The Red Sox wasted a solid start from Kutter Crawford, who blanked the Orioles for six innings. Boston pounded out 14 hits but could only generate two runs as the Red Sox went 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
Adam Duvall had a triple and a single for Boston (77-84), which has lost six of its past seven games.
Rookie Gunnar Henderson was named the team's MVP, as voted on by members of the local media. Henderson is tied for the team lead with 28 home runs and has an .817 OPS.
Baltimore closer Felix Bautista will undergo surgery this month to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. Bautista had been rehabbing with an eye toward potentially rejoining the team this season but now will be out through the 2024 season.
--Field Level Media