Tonight: The Rays will send Alex Cobb (7-2, 2.94 era), to the mound to face Baltimore’s Miguel Gonzalez, (6-5, 3.84 era), with a game time of 7:05 p.m. at Camden Yard.
(Baltimore:) Last night, here at Camden Yard the final line-score read Tampa Bay 4-10-0 and the Orioles 3-15-0 and the Rays David Price won his 7th game of the season, going only 5 innings. The trick to this win for the Rays, was keeping Baltimore from getting the key hit with runners on base. The Birds stranded 10 runners on base on a night when Price was not on his game, but good enough to win. The Rays bull pen kept another 5 runners from crossing the plate, that is 15 Orioles left on base, when the game ended.
The Rays remained a game behind the first place Boston Red Sox who beat the Giants 7-0, last night in San Francisco. The loss dropped Baltimore to 5.5 games out of first place and 4 games out of the final American League Wild Card spot.
It is wins like this that puts pressure clearly on the teams behind the Rays like Baltimore. Winning game one of a three game series forces the Orioles into the can’t afford to lose another game mode. Speaking to the press after the game the Birds All Star center fielder Adam Jones, showed what a tough loss can do the mental state of a team.
“Any loss is frustrating but it was a hell of a game from both sides,”Jones said. “They came out and they set us down with men in scoring position. We left 15 on base, that means we had 15 opportunities in my eyes. But Price is the pitcher he is because he knows how to get out of jams like that and Tampa Bay is where they are because they win close games like this.”
The Birds have to press, they know each time a runner is on base they have drive him in, that means the advantage goes to the pitcher. Hitters tend to swing more freely when they are pressing and pitchers can exploit their weak spots. That said Baltimore still has the power advantage over the Rays and that is where Tampa Bay hopes the pressure helps keep those big bats silent.
The Rays have some help in putting pressure on Baltimore and it comes from the Oakland A’s. As of this morning the A’s are 4 games up over the Birds for the final AL Wild Card spot and after the Rays leave Charm City, following Wednesday night’s game. Oakland heads into Baltimore for a big three game series starting Friday.
That is great news for the Rays because Baltimore must face the two teams directly in front of them in the playoff hunt back to back, and the Birds have a very small margin for mistakes. If the Rays can take this series then Oakland comes to town to face a Baltimore team, who can’t afford to lose another series.
Pressure baseball is what shows who are really the contenders for post season play. Winning the opening game of this big series on the road was a good first step for the Rays, now they need a knockout punch with another win either tonight or Wednesday.
It is all about keeping pressure on the teams chasing you.