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Orioles-Rays series preview: Tampa finally comes to town

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The Orioles finally play a division opponent other than the Yankees or Red Sox. The Rays are trending up, but can Baltimore finally win some games at home?

MLB: New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay entered yesterday’s day off just one spot ahead of the Orioles in the American League East. Unfortunately for Baltimore, Tampa is no longer playing like a fourth-place team.

The Rays completed a three-game sweep of the New York Mets to mark four consecutive victories. Tampa can pitch, they hit and they play good defense.

The mere existence of the Rays is enough to frustrate most Baltimore fans. The Orioles are forced to complete with the large market Yankees and Red Sox, but Tampa has become a consistent competitor without breaking the bank. Throw in the fact that they have the only prospect ranked ahead of Adley Rutschman and, well, bleh.

The Rays’ lineup has come to life during the four-game win streak. They tallied seven or more runs in three of the four games after some early season struggles at the plate.

The Orioles dropped four straight games to New York teams before pulling off a 10-6 win over the Yankees on Sunday. They will look to clinch their first series victory since taking two of three from Seattle earlier this month. Tampa’s arrival will mark the first divisional game that does not include the Yankees or Red Sox. Baltimore still has yet to face the Blue Jays.

Game 1: Tuesday, May 18, 7:05 pm

Matt Harvey (3-3, 4.81 ERA) vs. Luis Patiño (1-1, 1.54 ERA)

The Orioles set their rotation for the series Monday morning after a touch of uncertainty. Baltimore will send out Matt Harvey, John Means and Dean Kremer all in turn. Harvey’s bounce-back season took a hit his last time out. The righty allowed seven runs in just 4.1 innings during a reunion at Citi Field.

The Rays are in the process of stretching Patiño from an opener to a more traditional starter. Patiño worked four innings his last time out after pitching three frames against the Angels. Patiño did not allow a run in a pair of multi-inning relief appearances to start the season.

Game 2: Wednesday, May 19. 7:05 pm

John Means (4-0, 1.21 ERA) vs. TBD

Means will look to continue his dominant season this Wednesday. The 28-year-old received a full week of rest after blanking the Mets over six innings. It is still legally required to mention his no-hitter against the Mariners, and you will not hear a complaint from me. Means leads the American League with a 1.21 ERA.

The Orioles have yet to face the Rays this season. Veteran Rich Hill started May 13 against the Yankees and kept New York off the scoreboard for 6.2 innings. The 41-year-old has not allowed a run in his last three appearances. Hill figures to start one of the final two games of the series.

Game 3: Thursday, May 20, 12:35 pm

Dean Kremer (0-3, 5.81 ERA) vs. TBD

Dean Kremer appears to be back on track after a shaky start to the season and a brief option to the Orioles alternate camp. Kremer allowed a pair of runs over five inning against the Yankees his last time out, and three runs in a loss to Boston on May 9. Kremer’s best start of the season came May 3 at Seattle where he limited the Mariners to just one run over six innings.

Despite the improvement, Kremer remains susceptible to the long ball. He has allowed at least one home run in seven of eight starts, and both New York runs came via solo home runs. Entering Monday, the Rays ranked 18th in the league with 44 home runs. Baltimore sat at 22nd with 39 dingers.

Poll

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

This poll is closed

  • 5%
    Three (O’s sweep)
    (8 votes)
  • 26%
    Two
    (39 votes)
  • 60%
    One
    (89 votes)
  • 7%
    None (Rays sweep)
    (11 votes)
147 votes total Vote Now