The Baltimore Orioles are coming off of a four-game series split with the Toronto Blue Jays over the weekend and find themselves in the exact same position as they were four days ago as they sit 4 1/2 games back of the Jays for first place in the AL East and are tied with the New York Yankees. Before the season started, the three game series starting today against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg looked pretty daunting, but due to several injuries and the inability to live up to high expectations, the three game series is now an opportunity for the Orioles.
Tampa Bay currently has a 27-43 record, which is the worst in baseball, and no one saw it coming as many experts had them in the World Series prior to the season. They have been hit hard with the injury bug, especially when it comes to their stating rotation. Normally among the league leaders in most pitching categories, the Rays are 19th in baseball with a 4.00 ERA, and 20th in all of MLB with a 4.04 ERA from their starters. Another issue for Tampa has been their starters inability to get deep into games as Rays' starting pitchers have accrued 394 innings, the 7th fewest in baseball.
Now what is ironic here, is that the Orioles pitching staff ranks in similar spots to those mentioned above regarding the Rays, but the difference is that the Orioles bullpen is much better and their offense is leaps and bounds better than that of the Rays. Tampa currently ranks 23rd in average, 24th in home runs, 26th in runs, and have the fourth fewest stolen bases in baseball. It is pretty easy to see why the Rays have the record they do, when their pitching has been average and their offense struggles to score runs.
This three game series is a big opportunity for the Orioles as they are not only going to be facing a team that is clearly struggling right now, but you do not have to face their two best pitchers in David Price and Chris Archer, and the Blue Jays and Yankees are playing a three game series against each other starting on Tuesday. Thus the Orioles will have a chance to either gain a game on the division leading Jays, or separate themselves from New York.
Here are the pitching matchups for the series:
- Wei-Yin Chen (7-2, 3,76 ERA) vs Jake Odorizzi (2-7, 4.85 ERA)
- Miguel Gonzalez (3-4, 4.17 ERA) vs Erik Bedard (3-4, 3.83 ERA)
- Kevin Gausman (2-1, 3.71 ERA) vs Alex Cobb (2-4, 3.99 ERA)
A split in the four game series was not the worst thing that could have happened to the Orioles as it kept them in the race as getting swept would have been them in such a deep hole that it would have been tough to climb out of. Baltimore will play three against Tampa, have an off day, then three in New York against the Yankees this week, so it is a big mid-June week.
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