Another day, another important series, as the Rays season ending gauntlet continues. Tampa Bay will welcome the Baltimore Orioles to the Trop for the last time this season, on the heels of an ugly 8-2 loss against the Texas Rangers. The Rays, again, have an opportunity to open up some breathing room in the Wildcard race. Then again, they had a chance to open up room the previous four days, and, well…
I was hoping to write a grandiose introduction — a task that would have been made much easier, had the Rays walked away with a series win against the Rangers. But they didn’t, and here we sit in the shadow of the final home series of the year. Tampa Bay started the season at home against the O’s, and they’ll finish the regular season home series against the same team this weekend.
The Rays still control their own destiny with only 10 games left to play. 5-5 in their last 10 games (5-2 in their last seven and 47-30 at home), the Rays are tied for the lead in the AL Wildcard race with the Rangers. The Baltimore Orioles, on the other hand, are still in the hunt for the postseason, however they’ll have their work cut out for them. Also 5-5 in their last 10 games, Jason Hammel (Friday’s starter) is 7-8 with a 5.12 ERA and 0-2 with a 4.96 ERA in his last three starts, and Tampa Bay will look to swarm the former Ray early on. Tampa Bay has also found success against Scott Feldman, and they’ll look to continue to do so Saturday.
Look at the bright side: Tampa Bay still has a 65.2% chance of reaching the postseason.
Jason Hammel: Former Ray Jason Hammel gets the start opposite of David Price, Friday. Tampa Bay has take two of the three games Hammel’s started this season, including a seven run/10 shellacking back in May. Key match-ups: Kelly Johnson (8-27, 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, BB), Jose Lobaton (1-2, 2B), James Loney (12-36, 3 2B, 3 HR, 9 RBI), Delmon Young (2-5, RBI), Ben Zobrist (5-9, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, BB).
Scott Feldmon: Per Rotowire, “Feldman gave up two runs (one earned) on two hits and a whopping six walks with three strikeouts in five innings Tuesday against the Red Sox.” Feldmon owns a 2.77 ERA in 13 innings of work against Tampa Bay. The Orioles 30 year-old RHP has been good for most of the season, however he has given up four or more runs in seven outings. Key match-ups: David DeJesus (6-11, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 6 BB), Yunel Escobar (3-6, 2B, BB), Kelly Johnson (2-4, 2B, RBI), Sean Rodriguez (2-7, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB), Delmon Young (4-14, 2 2B, 3B, 2 RBI).
Wei-Yin Chen: Per Rotowire, “Chen pitched 5.2 innings and allowed three runs on a career-high 11 hits Wednesday against the Red Sox.” Chen has given up just a pair of runs in each of his two starts against Tampa Bay this season. Still, a handful of Rays have posted good numbers against the Orioles’ 28 year-old lefty. Key match-ups: Sam Fuld (3-11, BB), Chris Gimenez (3-6, 2B, 2 RBI), Matt Joyce (1-4, 2 BB), Jose Lobaton (3-8), Delmon Young (1-4), Ben Zobrist (10-20, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, BB).
- RHP Jesse Crain (right shoulder strain) threw 20 pitches Thursday afternoon in an Instructional League game in Sarasota. If he feels fine Friday, Crain should be cleared to finally join the bullpen, writes Roger Mooney of the Trib.
- We can expect the addition of Jake Odorizzi to the roster Friday.
- Stats, stats, stats: The Rays are hitting .257 as a team, with Wil Myers hitting .300, James Loney hitting .297, and Ben Zobrist hitting .271. The Orioles are hitting .261 with Chris Davis hitting .290, Adam Jones hitting .289, and Manny Machado hitting .285. For game one at Tampa Bay, the Orioles start Jason Hammel, who is 7-8 with a 5.12 ERA and 0-2 with a 4.96 ERA in his last three starts.
- A wise man once said, “If you don’t go to games regularly, shut the fuck up about attendance — you’re part of the problem.” I concur. Any-who, how’s about getting out to the Trop this weekend, people.