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Orioles-Rays series preview: The AL East battle for the ages

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Three days, four games. It should be an action-packed weekend full of surprises at Camden Yards.

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Baltimore Orioles Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

The Orioles and the Rays get together this weekend in a series that might just be one of the most-viewed four-game sets in the history of baseball. Two AL East powerhouses take the field at Camden Yards in 36 innings of baseball that might be talked about for the rest of history. How can you not tune in to watch this?

Hey, at least we’re trying here.

The Orioles do actually host the Rays this weekend in a set that most of the country won’t be tuned into. The appeal doesn’t quite hit that of a good old fashioned Red Sox/Yankees East rivalry series, so unless you’re living in either Baltimore or Tampa, this game probably won’t be on your TV screens.

However, you are reading this series preview, which means you must have some interest — even if it’s just a bit. The rest of the country might not care, but why not treat this like the World Series?

Game 1: Friday, 7:05 p.m.

Jake Faria (3-1, 4.15 ERA) vs. Kevin Gausman (2-2, 3.30 ERA)

Here’s a game between two good young pitchers who have been having fairly decent seasons. Neither has been dominant, but both are good enough to potentially make this Friday night game a smooth one.

For Gausman, it’ll be helpful if the Orioles can get him even one run. His last outing against Oakland was about as close to a true gem as you can ask for. It’ll be fascinating to see how he starts out of the gate here after not earning the win in one of the best starts of his career.

Faria is holding opponents to a .219 average against in his first 121 innings of work in the bigs and he’s seen the Orioles a bit over his time with Tampa Bay. Adam Jones is 4-10 against the right-hander with a home run, while Chance Sisco’s only at-bat resulted in a round-tripper. With the Orioles riding a bit of a high right now (in 2018 terms), this should be a decent matchup.

Game 2: Saturday, 3:05 p.m.

Chris Archer (2-2, 5.32 ERA) vs. TBD

Game 3: Saturday

TBD vs. Alex Cobb (0-4, 7.61 ERA)

The TBD here is interesting for the Orioles and the Rays, so we’ll see who ends up getting the nods on both sides. Regardless, here’s a twin-bill to help your Saturday be a bit more entertaining. 18 innings of Orioles baseball — could you really ask for much more?

This is an interesting Saturday setup for the two guys taking the hill, as both have really stumbled out of the gate and could use big games to settle down and carry them into the summer months. Cobb has been unable to find any rhythm whatsoever, an incredible disappointment on the mound after being touted as a potential key to settling down the rotation.

For Archer, he continues to struggle to find his 2015 form. He’s hardly pitching poorly (9.5 K/9 with low walk numbers), he’s just not inducing weak contact. He’s been hit around hard over his first eight starts, allowing 52 hits in 45.2 innings tossed. He isn’t missing many bats, a trend the Orioles hope to continue in the second half of Saturday’s doubleheader.

For the Orioles in game one, there are plenty of options — don’t count out David Hess, who is having a heck of a season at Norfolk.

Game 4: Sunday, 1:05 p.m.

Blake Snell (4-2, 2.40 ERA) vs. Dylan Bundy (1-5, 5.31 ERA)

Ah, normalcy. One game, hopefully of the nine-inning variety, and two starters who we are confident will take the mound.

Dylan Bundy... What can you really say about expectations for him heading into this one? Look, the last outing was historically bad. There’s nothing much you can say about it other than it needs to be wiped from memory and put away.

Sure, it’ll be interesting to see how Bundy responds, but I wouldn’t be too set on the idea that it’s going to make a major difference either way. One start is one start. Bundy is mentally tough, and it’s doubtful that he’ll carry over those struggles to Sunday afternoon.

Keep an eye on Snell here. He’s finally looking like the guy Tampa Bay thought they had throughout his rise in the organization. He’s striking guys out (50 in 48.2 innings) and has really been able to keep opposing hitters off-balance this season. There isn’t much that the Rays would probably like to see him do differently this year. If the Orioles can take this game, it might have to be in a low-scoring affair.

Poll

How many games will the Orioles win this series?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    0
    (14 votes)
  • 12%
    1
    (26 votes)
  • 45%
    2
    (97 votes)
  • 23%
    3
    (50 votes)
  • 11%
    4
    (24 votes)
211 votes total Vote Now