The Tampa Bay Rays host the Baltimore Orioles in a very rare Friday through Monday four game series tonight. Tampa Bay can with a series win or a sweep, all but end the Birds post-season hopes. The Rays have won eight out of the last 10 times that the two teams have faced each other.
The Rays are presently tied with the Texas Rangers for the top spot in the American League Wild Card derby. At the moment the O’s are just one game back of the final Wild Card spot. Tampa Bay needs to start getting rid of their competition and this match – up with Baltimore could provide them with that much needed knockout punch.
This series really comes down to the pitching because in truth both teams are not scoring runs. As of late the Rays bats have come alive but they are hardly putting up big numbers and the Baltimore comes into this series hitting 222 with runners in scoring position on this road trip and they have not scored more than five runs in their last 16 games.
Tonight is an important start to the series because David Price, (8-8, 3.45ERA) who takes the hill at the Trop, has been a key person in the Rays dominance of Baltimore. He helped Tampa Bay win two of three in the latest match-up August 19-21 against Baltimore. Also of note is that Price is 3-0 with a 2.15 ERA in last seven starts against the O’s.
Baltimore will start this series off with Jason Hammel (7-8, 5.12) who is 0-2 with a 7.15 ERA in last two starts against the Rays but gave up two runs over 6 2/3 innings in a 2-1 loss at Tropicana Field on June 7.
After Friday night’s outing with Price on the hill the Rays will follow up with Alex Cobb, (9-3, 3.02 ERA) on Saturday. He got his first win since August 20th in his last outing against the Rangers. As fate would have it the victory for Cobb prior to the win over Texas came against the O’s in Baltimore, where he allowed one earned run over six innings.
Saturday’s Baltimore starter has not yet be announced although it could be right hander Miguel Gonzalez, (10-7, 3.92 ERA), he has forced to miss a start due to a groin pull. Baltimore could choose Bud Norris, (10-11, 4.67 ERA), who has a sore elbow, but did throw this week without pain. It may come down to who feels the best will get the start.
Sunday the Rays will go with Jeremy Hellickson( 11-9, 5.23 ERA), he gave up five runs to the Rangers before the end of Tuesday’s third inning. The Orioles will counter with Scott Feldman (5-4, 3.51 ERA) who has been at his best over his last seven starts, holding opponents to a .175 average and 1.77 ERA.
The series ends on Monday with the Rays, rookie Chris Archer, (9-7, 3.02 ERA)getting the ball. Manager Joe Maddon has been very careful not to push the rookie past the seventh inning in his last two starts. The O’s will go with Wei-Yen Chen, (7-7, 4.03 ERA)who has had trouble his last two starts with his location but he has a 2.93 ERA in seven starts against the Rays.
The bottom-line here is that the Rays pitching is far better than is Baltimore and if Tampa Bay can take three out of four in this key series they can get rid of one more team in the chase for playoffs.