The Rays have been the better team this season but Baltimore has the home field advantage, so that makes things pretty even. Baltimore manages to miss Tampa Bay ace Chris Archer, which could make the Orioles the favorites to win this series.
Both teams are in the middle of the wild card race and not too far back in the division, so each side could really use a couple wins in this matchup.
This series will be contested from Friday, June 30 through Sunday, July 2, 2017 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
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The Rays will begin the series by sending Jacob Faria to the mound. He is 3-0 with a sparkling 2.10 ERA in four starts, with his peripheral numbers matching his miniscule ERA. While it’s been a great start, the sample size is still small. The Orioles will counter with Chris Tillman, who has struggled to a 1-5 record and an awful 8.39 ERA on the year. Tillman has given up 22 earned runs over his past four starts and may not be long for the rotation if he continues to struggle.
In the second game of the series, Tampa Bay is scheduled to start Jake Odorizzi. He is 4-3 on the season with a 4.00 ERA. Odorizzi has seen his ERA rise nearly a run-and-a-half over the past six weeks as he struggles to put away opposing offenses. The Orioles are slated to send out Dylan Bundy. He is 8-6 on the season with a 3.73 ERA but hasn’t been very good over his past four starters.
In the finale, the Rays are slated to start Alex Cobb, who is 6-5 overall with a 3.73 ERA. Cobb threw eight shutout innings in a win over the Pirates last time out and hopes to keep it rolling. The Orioles need to get Kevin Gausman back on track. He is 4-7 with a 6.07 ERA with poor peripheral numbers as well.
Making a Push
With the Rays still very much in the American League playoff race, they are looking to add pieces to ensure they snag a wild card spot. They acquired shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria from the Marlins this week in exchange for two minor league players in an effort to shore up the position.
Hechavarria is an experienced infielder and has the ability to help the Rays defensively. Tim Beckham will make the shift from shortstop to second base to make room for Hechavarria.
Tampa Bay has a small payroll and not to much room to maneuver but it knows there is a chance to make the playoffs and wants to take that shot. Hechavarria isn’t a star, but he constitutes an upgrade at the position as the Rays hope to snag a playoff berth.
Player To Watch
Manny Machado -- The Orioles shortstop is one of the bright young stars in the major leagues, and while he hasn’t played poorly this season, he has yet to be the dominant force expected. He is hitting .223 with an on-base percentage of .297 and has 14 home runs and 38 RBIs this year.
Machado has now moved over to shortstop because of the injury to J.J. Hardy. He is a really good defender and hopes to prove it at the new position while also getting his bat going. It seems like only a matter of time for Machado to turn it around, and the Orioles hope it happens here in this series.
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