With the Orioles having won the first two games of this series against the Rays, there is only one option for the third game. As Adam Jones is fond of writing on Twitter: stay hungry. It feels like (although it may not actually be true) the Orioles have not been very good in that already-won-a-series, going-for-a-sweep game. Maybe it's just hard to play that third game after two intense ones, especially in a series like this one, where there's a quick turnaround for an early afternoon getaway day game.
Still, they need to do their best to win to send a potential wild card rival farther back into the pack and to keep pace in the division. Boston stole a game on Tuesday night, but that house of misery cannot be relied upon to boost the Orioles into the playoffs. They will have to do it themselves.
Wei-Yin Chen starts this afternoon game for the O's. He has had one extra day of rest since his last start. Will that be enough? Stories have been written about how he may be approaching his typical innings workload and he seemed in his last couple of starts like he may be tiring. Perhaps they would have given him more rest if Steve Johnson had not been pressed into service on Tuesday. Well, you know what they say about wishes. Chen seems like he relishes these big moments, though. He will have to come up big against a Rays lineup that will be as desperate in wanting to avoid a sweep as the O's would hopefully be in wanting to record a sweep.
The challenge for O's hitters will be facing off against Jeremy Hellickson, who's having one of those opposite end of "why pitcher wins are meaningless" kind of seasons, with an 8-10 record even though he has a 3.33 ERA. How does that happen? Very carefully, I suppose. The league bats .244/.308/.417 off Hellickson. That's great for BA and OBP but it seems like when they do hit him, they hit him a bit harder than against most pitchers. With 24 home runs allowed in 151.1 IP, he averages a home run every 6.1 innings, and the Orioles, as we know, like to hit home runs.
Lefties hit Hellickson better than righties. No surprises with the platoon splits there. He is a right-handed pitcher. However, again, the SLG for lefties and righties against him is just about the same. So when they get to him, they get to him - and hopefully guys like Chris Davis (last seen carrying around Nate McLouth like a rag doll) and Mark Reynolds will find a way to get to him.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||TAMPA BAY RAYS|
|Nate McLouth - LF||Desmond Jennings - LF|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||B.J. Upton - CF|
|Wilson Betemit - DH||Ben Zobrist - SS|
|Adam Jones - CF||Evan Longoria - DH|
|Chris Davis - RF||Ben Francisco - RF|
|Manny Machado - 3B||Jeff Keppinger - 3B|
|Mark Reynolds - 1B||Ryan Roberts - 2B|
|Robert Andino - 2B||Luke Scott - 1B|
|Taylor Teagarden - C||Chris Gimenez - C|