Game 15: Rays (5-9) @ Orioles (7-7), 7:05

The latest entry in the "Miguel Gonzalez stares intently from the dugout" photo genre. - Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

David Price is usually a tough task, but he's struggled in his first three starts, and the Orioles have already won a game he started this year.

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There's nothing so encouraging as needing to bounce back from a flat effort in a loss and then seeing David Price will be pitching against the Orioles tonight. Actually, that isn't very encouraging at all, is it? Shoot.

If you want to put a positive spin on it, there's the fact that Price has been hit pretty hard in his three starts so far this season, to the tune of 11 earned runs in 17 innings, giving up four home runs. The Orioles have already beaten him once on the season. Well, they won the game he started. Price himself did not take the loss.

If you want to put a negative spin on it, you might think that there's no way Price could remain as bad as he's been, and he's due to turn the ship around, and will probably start that against the Orioles tonight, what with O's designated hitters collectively being out-hit by pitchers. That is not an exaggeration. O's DHs are hitting .064/.170/.128 and pitchers are batting .144/.184/.184. Steve Pearce takes up the mantle tonight. Good luck with that, Team Steve.

There are eight other hitters on the team and despite a couple of home runs yesterday, the team looked fairly lifeless. The two Orioles who've seen the most of Price are Nick Markakis (40 PA, .633 OPS) and Adam Jones (33 PA, .555 OPS). That's bad. All Orioles hitters have a .602 OPS collectively in 192 PA. That's also bad. Hope that Price continues the slow start to his season.

Whatever Price may or may not do against O's hitters, it's up to Miguel Gonzalez to limit the damage done by Rays hitters for as long of the game as he can manage. Through 14 games, an Orioles starter has yet to complete seven innings. In the two games of this series, they have yet to go more than five innings. That's going to have to change if the team wants to have some good fortune this season - especially since the bullpen, through early action, is not performing on the level of last year's bullpen.

I take that last sentence back, because it turns out that O's relievers have a 2.86 ERA in 44 innings and last year's bullpen had a 3.00 ERA. Pedro Strop notwithstanding, they're pitching well. Three relievers have yet to allow a run, which won't continue. Starters need to go deeper and do better regardless.

It's the rubber game of the series and another game where the O's need to win to stay above .500. They're muddling so far, and though not even 10% of the season is over, their record does reflect that muddling. Break out! Pitch well! Hit well! Or not, and I'll root for you anyway. But I'll be happier if you win, Orioles, and miserable if you suck.


BALTIMORE ORIOLES TAMPA BAY RAYS
Nick Markakis - RF Desmond Jennings - CF
Manny Machado - 3B Kelly Johnson - LF
Adam Jones - CF Ben Zobrist - 2B
Matt Wieters - C Evan Longoria - 3B
Chris Davis - 1B Matt Joyce - RF
J.J. Hardy - SS Shelley Duncan - DH
Steve Pearce - DH James Loney - 1B
Nolan Reimold - LF Jose Molina - C
Alexi Casilla - 2B Yunel Escobar - SS

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