My dude! (Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Rays)

After taking two of three from the Twins, the Tampa Bay Rays will cap their seven-game road trip with a four-game set in Charm City, starting Thursday. Stop the presses, the Orioles dropped their first series since the middle of August, losing two of three to the Cardinals.

At 90-57 on the season, the Rays enter play a season-high-tying 33 games over .500, and just two games back of the Orioles with 15 games left to play.

Tampa Bay took advantage of Baltimore’s series loss to gain two games on the Orioles in the AL East. They are in a good spot heading into this important set wherein a series win would result in the Rays’ reclamation of first place in the division.

They will be leaning heavily on Isaac Paredes, Yandy Díaz, Harold Ramírez, Brandon Lowe, Josh Lowe, and Luke Raley, all of whom put up big wRC+ numbers over the last seven days. Rene Pinto also flexed his muscles over that stretch, swatting a pair of homers and putting up a .300 ISO. The Rays slashed a solid (albeit underperforming as compared to the Orioles…you can see their numbers below) .252 BA/.349 OBP/.451 SLG/.800 OPS line across the last seven days, with a 125 wRC+.

The Rays enter play with an overall 3.77 ERA and 3.80 FIP (3.78 ERA and 3.59 FIP for the starters, 3.77 ERA, and 4.05 FIP for the relievers). Over the last seven days, Tampa Bay has put up a very good 2.90 ERA and 3.37 FIP (4.14 ERA and 4.28 FIP for the starters, and a 0.00 ERA and a 1.28 FIP for the relievers).

Meanwhile, Baltimore’s pitching staff has put up a modest 4.06 ERA and 4.03 FIP on the season (4.41 ERA and 4.38 FIP for the starters, 3.53 ERA, and 3.50 FIP for the relievers). The pitching staff has shown signs of overuse the last seven days, pitching to a combined 4.58 ERA and a 4.26 FIP (5.90 ERA and a 4.88 FIP for the starters, 3.00 ERA and a 3.51 FIP for the relievers).

While they are just 3-6 against the Orioles this season, the Rays have played them very close and have actually put up a +2 run differential. Expect more of the same this weekend.

Pitching Probables

Over the next four days, Kevin Cash will turn to Aaron Civale (7-3, 2.96 ERA, 3.35 FIP), Zach Eflin (14-8, 3.53 ERA, 3.08 FIP), Tyler Glasnow (9-5, 3.15 ERA, 2.93 FIP), and Zack Littell (3-6, 4.25 ERA, 4.18 FIP). Brandon Hyde will counter with Kyle Bradish (11-6, 3.03 ERA, 3.40 FIP), Jack Flaherty (8-8, 4.98 ERA, 4.40 FIP), Grayson Rodriguez (5-4, 4.88 ERA, 4.33 FIP), and Dean Kremer (12-5, 4.25 ERA, 4.65 FIP).

Aaron Civale allowed four runs on four hits and three walks over five innings against the Mariners on Saturday. He struck out three. The right-hander struggled right out of the gate, loading the bases before recording any outs and surrendering three runs in the first frame followed by a solo shot from Julio Rodriguez in the second. But, Civale settled in and held Seattle scoreless over his final three innings of work. The 28-year-old hadn’t allowed more than three runs in any of his 12 starts since June 25, putting up a 5-1 record with a 2.51 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and a 5.17 K/BB across 68 innings during that stretch.

Kyle Bradish surrendered two runs on four hits over six innings in an 11-2 rout of the Red Sox. He struck out nine. The right-hander cruised to his fourth consecutive win and fifth straight quality start, and Bradish’s nine strikeouts were his most since June 8 when he fanned 10 Brewers. He hasn’t taken a loss since late July, posting a 5-0 record with a 2.38 ERA, a 0.96 WHIP, and 4.17 K/BB through 41.2 frames since the beginning of August. Key Matchups: Randy Arozarena (3-11, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB), Yandy Díaz (5-11, 2B, BB), Brandon Lowe (1-3, 2B), Isaac Paredes (2-5, 2B, HR, RBI, BB), Luke Raley (2-6), Harold Ramírez (4-10, 2B, 3 RBI)

Zach Eflin allowed three runs on seven hits and two walks over five innings against the Mariners on Sunday. He struck out six. Eflin wasn’t at his best — he’s now allowed three runs over five innings in each of his last two starts. However, he did enough to earn his 14th win, which is tied for fifth-most in the league. Eflin’s ERA now sits at 3.53 with a 3.08 FIP, a 1.05 WHIP, and 7.13 K/BB across 28 starts (160.2 innings) on the season.

Jack Flaherty allowed five runs (four earned) on eight hits and one walk over 3.1 innings against Boston. He struck out three. The 27-year-old served up a two-run homer to Justin Turner in the first inning and coughed up two more earned runs before exiting one out in the fourth. Flaherty hasn’t completed six innings in any of his five starts since his Baltimore debut on August 3, posting an 0-2 record with an 8.73 ERA and 1.85 WHIP across 21.2 innings during that stretch. Key Matchups: Isaac Paredes (1-2), Harold Ramírez (1-2, BB)

Tyler Glasnow allowed four runs on six hits and two walks over six innings Monday, striking out eight. Glasnow gave up just one run through five frames before serving up a three-run shot to Royce Lewis in the sixth inning. Glasnow yielded just four runs over his previous three starts before Monday’s hiccup. Since the All-Star Break, he’s gone 7-2 with a stellar 5.57 K/BB and 2.53 ERA through 64 frames. Overall, he carries a 3.15 ERA and a 2.93 FIP on the season.

Grayson Rodriguez allowed four runs (two earned) on seven hits and two walks while striking out six over 4.1 innings on Sunday versus the Red Sox. Rodriguez had logged five consecutive quality starts going into Sunday. It’s unclear if the right-hander was thrown off by a rain delay prior to the game, but he didn’t have his best stuff despite throwing 63 of 89 pitches for strikes (71% strike rate). For the season, he’s at a 4.88 ERA and a 4.33 FIP, with a 1.39 WHIP, and 2.82 K/BB through 103.1 innings over 20 starts. Key Matchups: Luke Raley (1-4, BB), Taylor Walls (1-2, HR, RBI)

Zack Littell allowed three runs on five hits over seven innings against the Twins. He struck out eight. After firing off eight innings of one-run baseball in his last start, Littell went seven innings against Minnesota and logged his third quality start of the season despite surrendering a pair of home runs to Willi Castro and Edouard Julien. In all fairness, Julien’s homer was on a great pitch that he golf-swung out of the park. Credit goes to the batter. Even so, over his last seven appearances (42.2 innings), Littell owns a 4.43 ERA and an 11.00 K/BB, although he has allowed a 1.9 HR/9.

Dean Kremer allowed five runs on seven hits and four walks over 4.1 innings against St. Louis. He struck out two. Kremer was removed with one out in the fifth, having allowed 11 baserunners. The five runs allowed halted a stretch where Kremer had allowed three runs or less for eight consecutive starts, accumulating a 2.35 ERA and 38 strikeouts over 46 innings. All told, he maintains a 4.25 ERA and a 4.65 FIP. Key Matchups: Randy Arozarena (3-7, 2 HR, 4 RBI), Christian Bethancourt (1-4), Vidal Brujan (2-3), Brandon Lowe (3-7, 3 BB), Josh Lowe (2-4, 2B), Luke Raley (1-3), Harold Ramírez (2-7, BB), Taylor Walls (1-4)