Here we go kids. Just 22 games left of this season, and the Rays are about to embark on a very important six game road trip which will take them to Baltimore and New York for a pair of three-game sets. The Orioles are coming off of a two game split against the Yankees, where they attempted to take the top spot in the East. CC Sabathia dealt the O’s a big blow by plunking Nick Markakis and breaking his thumb. Tampa Bay, on the other hand, is coming off of a pair of series wins over the Yankees and Rangers. The Rays were able to gain a game on the Yankees, finding them two games out of first in the East. Both the Rays and O’s are primed to gain some ground in this upcoming series.
I say this with all sincerity: I would kill to see the Rays and the O’s end in the season at first and second in the East. I’m certainly not counting either team out. But with the Yankees being the Yankees, it’s going to be a grind for both teams. There’s nothing that I’d like more than to see the Rays take the next two series, while the Orioles remain strong going into the stretch. Who knows, maybe both Tampa Bay and Baltimore can sink the Bronx Bummers. It bears mentioning that the Rays are closing the season out at home against the Orioles. Friends, a battle for first and second to end the season would make for some compelling baseball…much more compelling than watching a team with an bloated budget win the division yet again. Yawn. More below after the stats.
- Orioles outfielder Adam Jones, is batting .393 with three homers in his last seven games. That’s okay, because BJ Upton has posted a .407 BA/.467 OBP/1.037 SLG/1.504 OPS line in September, with five of his 11 September hits being homers.
- Matt Moore is 2-1 with a 1.75 ERA in his last four road outings. Moore is also 2-1 with a 1.15 ERA over three starts in this series. That comes with a caveat: Mark Reynolds is batting .343 with nine homers and 17 RBIs in his last 10 games. Also, Matt Wieters is 4 for 7 with two home-runs off of Moore.
- Miguel Gonzalez gets the start for the Orioles on Wednesday. He was tagged for seven runs over 2 2/3 innings during a 10-1 home loss July 25 against the Rays. He bounced back in his following start against Tampa Bay, allowing only two hits in seven scoreless innings. Gonzalez is coming off a 6.1 inning five run, seven hit loss to Toronto.
- These teams have split 12 games overall, with six at Camden Yards this year.
- How do the Rays stack up against the Orioles starters?
- Jason Hammel: The Rays haven’t had much success against Hammel. Posting a .189 BA/.318 OBP/.243 SLG/.561 OPS line, Tampa Bay has all of seven hits in 37 at-bats against. The key match-ups are few and far in between: Jose Molina (2-5, 2B, BB), Carlos Pena (1-3), Luke Scott (2-7, 2B, 3 RBI)
- Miguel Gonzalez: The Rays have posted a .265 BA/.419 OBP/.471 SLG/.889 OPS line against the rookie RHP, with two homers and 7 RBI in 34 combined at-bats. Key Match-ups: Elliot Johnson (1-2, 2 RBI), Carlos Pena (2-4, RBI, BB), Ryan Roberts (1-3, HR, 2 RBI, BB), BJ Upton (2-5, BB)
- Jason Hammel was hit on the elbow Thursday, but said Friday that he’s “good to go” for his next start, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports. Could this effect his performance any come Tuesday?
- Tampa Bay has posted a combined .239 BA/.315 OBP/.387 SLG/.702 OPS line overall, ranked 27th in the majors in batting average. On the other hand, the Orioles have posted a .246 BA/.310 OBP/.416 SLG/.726 OPS line overall, ranked 22nd in the majors in batting average. However the Rays put together numbers that looked, dare I say…decent, in the month of August. Posting a .260 BA/.317/.424 SLG/.741 OPS line, the Rays ended the month with 121 total runs, more than the O’s. They haven’t let down in September, posting a .262 BA/.328 OBP/.473 SLG/.801 OPS line.
- And with that (above) said, Tampa Bay has the lowest ERA in the majors’ at 3.22. They’ve compiled a 2.64 ERA mark this month, holding opponents to a .185 BAA. Moore, Cobb, and Helly are going to need to be dominant this week. The Orioles are second in the majors’ in run production, (behind the Nationals) during the month of September.
- Following Sunday’s 6-0 defeat of the dreaded Rangers, James Shields and BJ Upton were tapped as the AL Player’s of the Week.
I know, the song below (Gainesville by, Dillinger Four) is about Gainesville and the Fest. However, I feel like the lyrics are applicable to the pennant race as we march toward October. This time of the year is what it’s all about!
Because It Bears Mentioning…
Marc Topkin of the Times posted something interesting regarding the Rays and the post-season on the heater blog. I’ve re-posted it below. Give it a gander:
* EASTERN VIEW: The Rays have the toughest schedule of the AL East contenders this week, but also the most control, playing three games at the Orioles and three at the Yankees. While the Rays are in Baltimore, the Yankees, who just found out they will be without 1B Mark Teixeira for 10-14 days, are in Boston. And when the Rays go to New York, the Orioles head out to Oakland, then go to Seattle and Boston.
* GETTING WILDER: The wild-card leading A’s just started a treacherous 17-game stretch that could definitely make or break their season, playing at the Angels, going home for 3 games with the O’s, then heading out to play the Tigers, Yankees and Rangers on the road. The Angels are playing the A’s and then the Royals. The Tigers are playing the Central-leading White Sox and then the Indians.
* ODDS ON: Coolstandings.com, which uses computer simulations to play out the remaining schedule 1-million times, seems to like the Rays chances. Here are the sites playoff chances for the contending teams going into play today:
*White Sox 80.2
* division leader