Last night, the Tampa Bay Rays only drew in the vicinity of 10,000 fans to a game where, with a victory, they would have clinched a playoff appearance. The Rays' David Price noted on his Twitter account that this was a shame, which apparently caused a bit of a kerfluffle. I guess all seven Rays fans are way too thin-skinned.
Speaking of Price, he's starting tonight's game, so as far as the whole clinching thing goes, it's in his hands. Once again, the Rays can guarantee at least a wild card berth with a victory over the Orioles - or with a Red Sox loss. Price is a guy the Rays will want to see when they need a win. He'll hit the 200 innings mark with the first batter retired tonight, and he's notched a 2.84 ERA on the year. That's starting to get into impressive territory, if not as impressive as Felix Hernandez. The advanced metrics are more pedestrian for him, though. And even if they weren't, even good pitchers have bad nights. Price has only seen the O's once this year, all the way back in mid-April, when he pitched seven innings and gave up only one run on a solo shot by Miguel Tejada.
The opposing starter for the Orioles that night is the same as tonight: Brad Bergesen. Bergy only pitched three innings that night and gave up eight runs (five earned). It's been quite an odyssey for 3E1N this season and that was not one of the better parts. Still, as I think I've noted for his last several starts, his ERA has been trending downward significantly in the last two months - it stood at 6.95 after a start on July 26 and now stands at 4.90. That's 70 innings worth of starts. A small sample size in relative turns, but it's not one or two fluke games either. He has yet to have a good game against the Rays this year, though, so this start will be a bit of a test. Especially considering the Rays lineup will be amped up looking to do all they can to clinch the playoff spot. Somewhere yesterday I even heard somebody say they've got the champagne on ice. I hope we can delay the corks being popped another night.
On that note, yesterday there was some question about whether O's fans would rather see the O's or the Rays win, if it meant keeping the Yankees farther from winning the AL East. I had a poll for CC users open during yesterday's game thread and the voting was 71-6 in rooting for the O's. That's a pretty substantial silent majority there. I was glad to see it was so lopsided, although I do understand those who feel the opposite. Nonetheless...