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Orioles-Rays series preview: Get out before the hurricane

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The O’s will play three games in two days at Tropicana Field and then get their butts out of Florida.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

To anyone reading this who lives in the projected path of Hurricane Dorian, stay safe. Don’t be a hero, and please get the hell out of Dodge until the coast is clear. Reports say this thing will be a beast once it hits the southeast United States.

Dorian may or may not make landfall in Florida, but the Rays aren’t taking any chances. They canceled Wednesday’s afternoon game against the Orioles and rescheduled it as a Tuesday doubleheader, which hopefully will help the O’s get out of town before any weather issues complicate their departure.

At this point, every game is critically important to the Rays. After sweeping their wild card rival Indians over the weekend, the Rays have taken over the top AL wild card spot, but they’re just half a game ahead of Cleveland and one ahead of the Athletics. Two of those teams will advance to the postseason, while one will be left out in the cold (barring a late charge from the Red Sox, which I don’t even want to think about). To make sure they’re not the team left without a chair when the music stops, the Rays need to fatten up on the easily beatable Orioles.

Still, the O’s have held their own against Tampa Bay so far this year, going 6-10, including a split of a four-game series in Baltimore just over a week ago. They’re 2-4 at Tropicana Field. The Birds will look to play spoiler as they wrap up their season series against their divisional foe.

Game 1: Monday, 1:10 PM

RHP Asher Wojciechowski (2-7, 5.12) vs. LHP Ryan Yarbrough (11-3, 3.36)

Wojciechowski is returning to the same ballpark in which he made his Orioles debut exactly two months ago, giving up four runs in 5.1 innings to the Rays on July 2. His chief antagonist that day, Brandon Lowe (3-for-3 with a home run and two RBIs), is out for the season with a quadriceps injury, so that’s one less thing for Wojo to worry about. Still, Wojciechowski hasn’t exactly been blowing hitters away lately; he went 0-4 with a 6.75 ERA in six August outings. Perhaps flipping the calendar to September will erase some of that bad juju.

Yarbrough, meanwhile, has been a godsend to a Rays rotation that lost ace Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow to injuries. Sometimes he’s a starter, sometimes he’s the bulk-innings guy who follows an opener, but either way Yarbrough has been effective. What jumps off the page is that he simply doesn’t walk guys. Yarbrough has issued only 14 free passes (one intentional) in 115.1 innings this year, while striking out 98. That’s a cool seven strikeouts for every walk. Orioles hitters don’t really draw walks anyway, but now they’ll have extra incentive to be aggressive in the count. He’s faced them three times this year and has allowed exactly one earned run each time.

Game 2: Tuesday, 3:10 PM (first game of doubleheader)

Game 3: Tuesday (second game of doubleheader)

TBD vs. TBD; TBD vs. TBD

The Rays are always kind of cagey with their starting pitcher assignments, and the fact that there’s now a doubleheader adds an extra layer of intrigue. Besides Yarbrough and Charlie Morton (who started yesterday), their rotation is basically all openers at this point. In the last nine games, Tampa Bay has started/opened with seven different pitchers, including Jose Alvarado, Diego Castillo, Trevor Richards, Austin Pruitt, and Andrew Kittredge. So maybe it’ll be some combination of those guys starting the two games of the doubleheader, or maybe some other openers, or maybe some September callups. Who even knows?

The Orioles, so far, haven’t been any more forthcoming about their projected starters. Recently they’ve been using just a four-man rotation — John Means, Dylan Bundy, Aaron Brooks, and Wojciechowski — and none of them would be able to start on regular rest on Tuesday. So they’ll have to pick from scraps, perhaps with Ty Blach getting called back up from Norfolk, or Gabriel Ynoa coming out of the bullpen for a spot start. Are you excited yet?

Poll

How many games will the Orioles win in this series against the Rays?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    3 (Orioles will sweep!)
    (8 votes)
  • 7%
    2
    (5 votes)
  • 52%
    1
    (34 votes)
  • 27%
    0 (Orioles will get swept)
    (18 votes)
65 votes total Vote Now