Baltimore has been in a funk of late but is also right in the mix. The Orioles need their starting pitching to hold up in order to turn the season around. While neither of these teams are likely to catch the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees in the American League East, they both feel like they can make a legitimate run at the second wild card berth.
This series will be contested from Friday, June 23 through Sunday, June 25, 2017 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.
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The Orioles will begin the series by sending Ubaldo Jimenez to the mound. He has been in and out of the starting rotation this season and has not been good, with a 2-2 record and a 6.25 ERA overall. Jimenez used to be one of the better starters in the majors but that was a long time ago. The Rays will be the favorites as they send out ace Chris Archer. He is 5-4 with a 3.75 ERA with 122 strikeouts in 98.1 innings pitched.
In the second game of the series, Baltimore is scheduled to start Dylan Bundy. He is 7-6 on the season with an ERA of 3.72, but was rocked by the Indians for six earned runs last time out. The Rays will counter with Jacob Faria. The youngster is 3-0 with a sparkling 1.37 ERA in three start, striking out 22 batters and walking only four in 19.2 innings pitched.
In the final game of the series, the Orioles will send out Chris Tillman, who is 1-5 with an ugly 8.39 ERA. Tillman is a veteran of the rotation, but if he doesn’t improve the Orioles may have to consider moving him to the bullpen. The Rays will also have the starting pitching advantage in this one, as Jake Odorizzi enters with a 4-3 record and a 3.78 ERA.
Player to Watch
Logan Morrison -- The Rays first baseman is putting together a career year and he has been a huge piece in the middle of the order. Morrison has settled into the cleanup spot as he is batting .247 with 21 home runs, 51 RBIs and a .920 OPS.
Morrison’s career high in home runs is 23 which he set in only his second year in the big leagues. Morrison will smash that number and if he keeps raking this well he could finish with 35 bombs or more, which would be an impressive accomplishment.
Evan Longoria is the team’s star, but Tampa Bay has been able to head into this series 39-36 on the season because the offensive players around him have contributed nicely. Morrison has been an important piece and hopes to keep it rolling.
Baltimore’ Struggling Sluggers
It’s clear the Orioles’ starting pitchers are having trouble, as evidenced by the ballooned ERAs. In past years the offense has been able to pick up the slack, but this year that hasn’t happened.
Superstar Manny Machado is only batting .228 with 15 homers, 37 RBIs and a .757 OPS. Adam Jones is batting .269 with 12 homers, 32 RBIs and a .744 OPS. Mark Trumbo had 47 home runs a season ago but only has 10 this year and a .714 OPS. Chris Davis is playing the best among the middle-of-the-order hitters, with a .781 OPS.
The Orioles play in a ballpark conducive to hitting, but the lineup has not taken advantage. Baltimore is only two games under .500 on the season but has a negative-63 run-differential, and if the pitching and hitting continue to play like this, the playoffs won’t be happening. The Orioles hope to turn it around in this series but it won’t be easy with such a starting pitching disadvantage.
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