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Orioles-Rays series preview: The top two AL teams battle it out in Baltimore

The Orioles will look to reduce Tampa’s lead in the AL East during a three-game set in Baltimore.

Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images

The Orioles held their own against the best team in the National League but managed only one victory in Atlanta. Baltimore will somehow face an even tougher test tonight when the best team in baseball comes to town.

Tampa Bay overcame a six-run deficit yesterday to clinch a series win against the Yankees. The Rays—um, how should I say this—don’t lose very often. They will arrive in Baltimore with a 28-7 record and a comfortable five-game lead in the toughest division in baseball.

The Orioles have the chops to battle these guys but nothing will come easy. All three Tampa starters posses ERAs below 2.30, and the bullpen boasts a 2.86 ERA as a unit. Shane McClanahan, Zach Eflin and Yonny Chirinos will enter the series with a combined 11-0 record.

Baltimore could have entered the series riding high but failed to take advantage of several opportunities on Sunday. Still, this series provides the O’s another opportunity to measure itself against the best of the best.

Game 1: Monday, 6:35 pm, MASN

Scheduled starters: RHP Kyle Gibson (4-1, 4.61 ERA) vs. LHP Shane McClanahan (6-0, 2.03 ERA)

The Birds will look to Kyle Gibson for a start worthy of a rotation leader. Nobody will confuse Gibson with a true ace, but he will have an opportunity to set the tone early in the series. The 35-year-old holds a career 6-5 record with a 4.35 ERA against the Rays.

Baltimore would love to receive some length from Gibson after a 12-inning affair on Sunday. Yennier Cano will likely be unavailable after tossing two scoreless innings yesterday. Baltimore paid a hefty price the last time Cano was unavailable with a late-inning loss on Saturday.

Shane McClanahan struck out nine his last time out against the Pirates. Unlike Gibson, McClanahan has earned the “ace” title after starting twice on Opening Day and representing the American League in the All-Star game last year.

The Orioles have yet to lose a series opener, but McClanahan likely represents the toughest test to date.

Game 2: Tuesday, 6:35 pm, MASN

Scheduled starters: RHP Grayson Rodriguez (1-0, 5.46 ERA) vs. RHP Zach Eflin (4-0, 2.25 ERA)

Sticking with the theme, the Orioles hope they have their future ace already on the roster. Grayson Rodriguez appeared to find something with a pair of scoreless starts against Detroit, but the righty allowed six runs and failed to complete four innings last week against the Royals. Kansas City tagged Rodriguez with three long balls, so the rookie will look to keep the ball in the ballpark against Randy Arozarena and the gang.

Zach Eflin may need to face the Orioles without his wedding ring, but the former Phillie likely has his sights set on a different piece of jewelry. Eflin holds a career 4.40 ERA, but Tampa has helped the 29-year-old reach a new level this year.

Game 3: Wednesday, 6:35 pm, MASN

Scheduled starters: RHP Dean Kremer (3-1, 5.80 ERA) vs. RHP Yonny Chirinos (1-0, 1.86 ERA)

Dean Kremer delivered one of the biggest starts of his career against the Braves on Friday. Kremer danced around six hits and a pair of walks to limit Atlanta to only one run in six innings. A potential rubber match could rest on Kremer’s arm, and the 27-year-old should have another opportunity to rise to the occasion.

Chirinos dominated as a long reliever before making his first start of the season against the Yankees. Chirinos pitched into the sixth against New York, but Tampa will rely on the bullpen to carry this one home.

The Orioles cannot catch Tampa in this series but can move in the right direction. The Rays should fall off their 130-win pace eventually. Can Baltimore’s climb toward a division championship start today?


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

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    3 (Orioles sweep)
    (24 votes)
  • 32%
    (107 votes)
  • 47%
    (157 votes)
  • 12%
    0 (Orioles get swept)
    (40 votes)
328 votes total Vote Now