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MLB Saturday review: Orioles, Angels, Cubs back with a bang

With the All-Star break in the rearview mirror, the MLB season is now officially past its halfway point and as we head down the stretch, storylines that develop will have a larger impact on the playoff race. 

Let’s take a look at how the first day of games after the All-Star break unfolded.

Orioles victorious, now just two games back

The Baltimore Orioles have been one of the biggest surprises of this season, and they currently sit in second place in the ultra-competitive AL East. 

Saturday, the Orioles took on the upstart Miami Marlins in Baltimore; despite allowing Miami to put up four runs in the second inning, the Orioles came out victorious. 

Nine separate players had hits in the victory for the Orioles, including Adley Rutschman (2-4, R) and Anthony Santander (2-4, 2 RBI). 

Kyle Gibson was solid, yet uninspiring for the O’s, going 5.1 innings and surrendering five earned runs on nine hits and two walks, striking out just one. 

The starting pitching is the big question mark for Baltimore down the stretch: the offense has all the pieces it needs to succeed, and they have one of the best bullpens in the league. 

If they can acquire some consistent starting pitching before the trade deadline, they can make a serious run for a pennant. 

Angels beat Astros to narrow deficit

Another incredibly competitive American League race is in the West, where four teams currently sit within eight games of each other – the division-leading Texas Rangers, the Houston Astros (3 GB), the Los Angeles Angels (8 GB) and the Seattle Mariners (8 GB). 

Each of these four teams is talented enough to make a run for the division title; however, the Angels got a jumpstart on their cohorts on Saturday with a 13-12 victory over the Houston Astros. 

The Angels had 15 hits in the win, something that will need to become a trend if the Angels want to climb the standings above the Astros and Rangers – two teams with rock-solid lineups. 

Taylor Ward, Eduardo Escobar and Hunter Renfroe each had multiple hits – if these players can continue to surge, they will strongly bolster the Angels’ run-producing capacity. 

Cubs look to stake NL Central claim

The NL Central is up in the air, and any team that gets hot in the division has a chance of climbing up the standings. 

Currently, the Milwaukee Brewers are in first place, with the Cincinnati Reds one game back in second, the Chicago Cubs seven games back in third, the Pittsburgh Pirates 9.5 games back in fourth and the St. Louis Cardinals in last, 11.5 games back. 

Chicago took steps toward beginning that hot streak, defeating the Boston Red Sox 10-4 on Saturday. 

The Cubs’ pitching has been superb, with Marcus Stroman and Justin Steele being particularly bright spots; however, the bats have been quiet. 

If the Cubs can continue to hit like they did on Saturday, they have as good a shot as anyone to claim the NL Central by year’s end.

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