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Orioles-Rays series preview: A quick stop in Tampa Bay

The Orioles look to gain ground in the AL East during a two-game set against the Rays.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Baltimore Orioles Brent Skeen-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Rays are an absolutely ridiculous 31-7 at home this season. The Trop takes plenty of heat on a routine basis, but something about the dome in St. Petersburg has provided quite the home-field advantage this year.

The Orioles (44-27) enter the series five games back in the AL East standings, but the Birds will have an opportunity to trim the deficit in the loss column to only one game. Of course, Baltimore could easily fall even further behind the first place Rays (51-24).

Both teams had the day off yesterday. Baltimore salvaged a game with a 6-3 win over the Cubs on Sunday, and Tampa Bay fell 5-4 to drop the series in San Diego. The Rays are staring down four straight against the Royals, so Baltimore likely needs to sweep if they hope to gain ground this week.

The Orioles have done an admirable job replacing Cedric Mullins and Ryan Mountcastle. Both Ryan O’Hearn and Aaron Hicks have provided consistent production, and the Birds need that to continue. Gunnar Henderson should be available on Tuesday after missing Sunday’s contest with the stomach flu.

Both bullpens benefited from the day of rest. Yennier Cano and Félix Bautista pitched during the victory on Sunday. Mike Baumann will look to bounce back after plunking a pair of hitters his last time out, and Spenser Watkins will be available if long relief is required.

I’m not sure what makes the Rays so difficult to beat at home, but most fans have avoided pulling out the tin foil hat so far this year. One would assume the Rays are due to come back to earth at some point, and now marks as good of a time as any. The Orioles took two of three last month at Camden Yards.

Game 1: Tuesday, 6:40 pm, MASN 2

Starters: RHP Kyle Bradish (2-3, 3.90 ERA) vs. RHP Tyler Glasnow (2-0, 3.43 ERA)

The Rays dropped the final two games of the series in San Diego but remain the only team in baseball without a three-game losing streak. The Orioles preserved their no-sweep streak in Chicago and will now look to snap Tampa’s two-loss-or-less stretch.

Baltimore will send out Kyle Bradish to face a Rays lineup that ranks second in baseball with an .804 team OPS. Tampa Bay leads the American League with 117 home runs, and led the AL in walks taken with 248 as of yesterday.

Bradish took a hard-earned loss his last time out after tossing seven innings of one-run ball against Toronto. He threw 98 pitches in both of his last starts but only lasted five innings in a win against the Brewers. Bradish struck out 10 and allowed six hits against Milwaukee. He allowed four hits but only struck out one in seven frames against the Jays.

Bradish has only allowed a combined three walks in his last four starts. The Rays will likely take a patient approach at the plate, but Bradish can save the bullpen if he pitches to contact.

Glasnow allowed three runs and pitched into the sixth inning his last time out against the A’s. Glasnow complained about cramping in his hand and said he never felt comfortable with his delivery. The Orioles wouldn’t mind if the righty needed another start or two to work out the kinks.

Game 2: Wednesday, 12:10 pm, MASN 2

RHP Tyler Wells (6-2, 3.20 ERA) vs. RHP Taj Bradley (4-3, 4.19 ERA)

Tyler Wells has quietly received some All-Star buzz in Birdland this year. Wells leads all starters with a 0.857 WHIP this season. The former Rule 5 pick struck out eight but allowed three homers against the Yankees. Wells pounds the zone and remains susceptible to the long ball, so keeping Tampa Bay in the yard could prove pivotal.

The Orioles have another day off on Thursday, so Cano and Bautista should be available for both games if necessary. Wells is capable of working into the seventh inning and could easily provide a bridge to the back end of Baltimore’s bullpen.

Taj Bradley pitches like a rookie with plenty of potential. He struck out 11 batters in his last start but failed to complete five innings. Bradley has walked 10 batters in his last three appearances, and his current arsenal fosters a three-true-outcomes type of game for the Orioles offense.


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

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    2 (Orioles sweep)
    (108 votes)
  • 63%
    1 (Orioles split)
    (237 votes)
  • 8%
    0 (Orioles get swept)
    (30 votes)
375 votes total Vote Now