The Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles are set to start a four-game, wrap-around series at Camden Yards on Thursday. A lot is on the line for the Orioles, while the Rays are still playing meaningful baseball…just in a different manner.
Tampa Bay enters the series fresh off two straight wins over the Blue Jays. Corey Dickerson and Kevin Kiermaier both homered in the series finale with Toronto, giving the club a new record of 200 homers in one season.
Tampa Bay skipper Kevin Cash said even though his team’s long been out of contention, games against the AL East give them a good look at where they’re at going into 2017.
You gauge yourself against the teams you play in your division. For whatever reason, we’ve played some good games against (Toronto). That’s a trend we need to continue against the rest of the division.
Baltimore enters the set on the heels of a series win against Boston, allowing them pull to within one game of Red Sox in the AL East and surpassing Toronto by one game.
The Orioles not sit atop of the AL Wild-Card race, leading Toronto by a game and Detroit by two. They also are 35-40 on the road this season, but boast a 45-25 record at home, where they will take on the Rays. Unfortunately for Tampa Bay, the Orioles are 11-4 (6-0 at home) this season against the Rays — the most wins for Baltimore against any other team.
Over the next four days, Kevin Cash will lean upon Blake Snell (5-8, 3.62 ERA), Chris Archer (8-18, 4.05 ERA), Matt Andriese (7-7, 4.46 ERA), and Jake Odorizzi (9-6, 3.81 ERA). Buck Showalter will counter with Yonavi Gallardo (5-7, 5.44 ERA), Ubaldo Jimenez (7-11, 5.98 ERA), Chris Tillman (16-5, 3.68 ERA), and Wade Miley (8-13, 5.80 ERA). Note: pitching matchups and rotation order are subject to change.
Rays Series Starters
Snell allowed three earned runs on six hits and three walks over 2-2/3 innings on Friday. He struck out just three. Snell labored from the get-go and threw a whopping 88 pitches by the time Cash pulled him in the third. Things started poorly for the lefty as he gave up an RBI double in the first inning, then unraveled in the third after he surrendered a solo shot, uncorked a wild pitch, and gave up an RBI single. Aside from his previous start against the Blue Jays, Snell has surrendered 10 runs (nine earned) over the 9-1/3 innings.
Snell looks to reverse his skid and finish his rookie campaign strong, telling Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times):
I only have three starts left and they are all really important to me. The growth I can gain from three outings is huge, so it’s definitely important. I think it’s something I need to do, so then in the offseason it allows me to be that much more focused, have more of a positive offseason. I definitely need to finish strong.
Archer surrendered three earned runs on four hits and a walk over seven innings Saturday afternoon. He struck out six. The righty was a tough-luck loser, putting together an efficient outing yet still ending the day with a loss. 72 of his 102 pitches went for strikes, while he notched 23 of the 27 first pitch strikes. He also coaxed 12 swinging strikes and now has tallied six strikeouts or more in 11 consecutive starts, including three consecutive quality starts.
Andriese bounced back from a string of rough starts, holding the Yankees to one run on six hits over five solid innings Sunday afternoon. After starting the season 6-0, the righty dropped seven consecutive decisions — including five of his last six starts — before snapping the skid Sunday.
Odorizzi hurled seven strong innings on Monday, allowing two runs on four hits and a walk while fanning four in a no-decision against Toronto. Jake bounced back from his worst start of the season by collecting the eighth quality start of his 11 second-half turns. Not counting his forgettable start against Baltimore on September 6th, Odorizzi hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in a game since the All-Star Break.
Orioles Series Starters
Gallardo tossed five innings of two run (one earned) ball against the Rays on Tuesday, allowing five hits and a walk while fanning five. The righty kept the Rays in check en route to his fifth victory of the season. And though Gallardo isn’t the strikeout master he once was — with just 75 strikeouts over 20 starts this season — he still managed a strikeout an inning on Tuesday…which honestly isn’t too hard since the Rays are rocking a 24.2% strikeout ratio. Key matchups: Corey Dickerson (5-11, 2B, HR, 4 RBI), Logan Forsythe (7-19, 2B, HR, 2 RBI), Kevin Kiermaier (4-11, 2B, RBI, 3 BB), Luke Maile (2-2, RBI), Brad Miller (4-13, 3B, 3 BB)
Jimenez surrendered two runs over seven innings against the Tigers on Saturday. Even though he hasn’t been the most consistent starter, Jimenez has delivered four quality starts in a row while winning each of his last two starts — including a 9 IP/2 H/3 R/1 HR/1 BB/6 K start against Tampa Bay on September 5th. The righty has lowered his ERA by almost a run along the way. Key matchups: Logan Forsythe (1-2, 2B, BB), Kevin Kiermaier (2-7, HR, 2 RBI), Bobby Wilson (2-4, BB)
Tillman allowed one run on four hits and a walk over six innings in a win over the Tigers on Sunday, striking out four. It was a a triumphant return to form after a stint on the DL, as Tillman out-dueled Justin Verlander to keep the Orioles two games ahead of the Tigers for a Wild-Card spot. The Orioles’ ace has stymied the Rays this season, collecting a 3-0 record and a 3.04 ERA over four starts (23-2/3 innings). Key matchups: Logan Forsythe (9-30, 3 2B, RBI, 2 BB), Evan Longoria (17-60, 4 2B, 7 HR, 10 RBI, 5 BB), Alexei Ramirez (5-11, HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB), Steven Souza Jr. (6-18, 2B, HR, 4 RBI, 3 BB), Bobby Wilson (1-2, RBI)
Miley was pounded early by the Red Sox on Monday, lasting just 1-1/3 innings while allowing six runs on eight hits and a walk. 10 of the first 12 Red Sox hitters reached base against lefty, and Showalter removed him after just 41 pitches — his shortest outing of the season. It marked Miley’s third consecutive loss, while each outing has been progressively worse than its predecessor. Since the start of August, Miley has an incredibly gaudy 8.41 ERA despite surrendering just six homers over eight starts. Be that as it may, Miley is 3-2 with a 2.38 ERA in seven starts against Tampa Bay (extending back to 2013). Key matchups: Logan Forsythe (6-21, 2 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB), Kevin Kiermaier (4-10, 2B, 3B, HR, RBI, BB), Luke Maile (1-3, 2B), Alexei Ramirez (3-11, 2B, RBI, BB)