Game 62: Orioles (34-27) @ Rays (33-27), 4:10

Mitchell Layton

The MLB development of Kevin Gausman continues in front of our very eyes as he makes his fourth start Saturday afternoon.

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On the fourth day of Gausmas, the Orioles gave to us... well, that remains to be seen, doesn't it? More than the single run of last night, one might hope. Not that pitcher wins and losses matter, but getting Kevin Gausman the first of his wins would be something.

The last time Gausman pitched in a dome environment, it did not go well. Whether that is related to the fact that it was a dome and bodes poorly for the Trop, who knows? No MLB hitters can be lightly trifled with, not even Izturis brothers, and the Rays, as a team, bat a respectable .257/.326/.417. Though they don't mash home runs like the Orioles - up to this point, no one does - they still score runs at a similar pace, only 12 fewer than the O's with one fewer game played. In terms of getting on base, the two teams are just about on the same level going into today.

The opportunity will, or at least should, be there to score runs today, because Jeremy Hellickson has not been good lately, and he is the Rays starter. By "not good" I mean he has a 5.59 ERA. This is not a guarantee of success, as the O's saw in Houston. For that matter, so did the Rays last night against Jason Hammel, although they still scored enough to win that game.

Hellickson also does not have good career numbers against several Orioles hitters. Both J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones have 36 plate appearances against Hellickson, and they have combined to hit five home runs off of him. Chris Davis (22 PA) has a 1.182 OPS, and Nate McLouth has five hits, including two doubles and a triple, in 16 at-bats. Encouraging signs all around, but as usual, all that matters is what happens today.

The reason for Hellickson's struggles this year may well be a touch of Jake Arrieta Syndrome. Consider, two years ago, when Hellickson had a 2.95 ERA and a .223 BABIP, he stranded 82% of the runners who reached base. This year, the BABIP has raised to .290, and even though he's made an improvement to his strikeout rate and cut his walk rate, the ERA has ballooned. Now he strands only 62.7% of runners. Compared to his successful seasons, an additional one in five runners to reach have been scoring.

Bad luck? Bad approach? Thinking too much? These are questions for people way above my pay grade. Aggression was not helpful against Archer yesterday. One imagines they might be aggressive again against Hellickson, and perhaps it will go better.

This is not related to anything, but I read today that on Wilson Betemit's injury recovery progression, he is doing light fielding drills. Is there any more pointless activity than that?


BALTIMORE ORIOLES TAMPA BAY RAYS
Nate McLouth - LF Matt Joyce - RF
Manny Machado - 3B Ben Zobrist - 2B
Nick Markakis - RF Kelly Johnson - LF
Adam Jones - CF Evan Longoria - 3B
Chris Davis - 1B James Loney - 1B
Matt Wieters - C Desmond Jennings - CF
J.J. Hardy - SS Luke Scott - DH
Chris Dickerson - DH Jose Lobaton - C
Ryan Flaherty - 2B Yunel Escobar - SS

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