The Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays have taken the fast track to essentially fall out of favor in the race for the second wild-card spot in the American League. With losses in 12 of its last 14 contests, beleaguered Baltimore looks to regain its footing on Thursday as it opens a four-game series against visiting Tampa Bay.
The Orioles have seen their offense go limp with back-to-back shutouts, mustering just five hits in a 1-0 loss in 11 innings to Boston on Tuesday and six in a 9-0 shellacking in the series finale. Trey Mancini had a single and double on Wednesday to extend his career-high hitting streak to 10 games, but is batting just 7-for-32 with 10 strikeouts this season versus Tampa Bay. The Rays have also stumbled with losses in eight of 11 before Wilson Ramos recorded his second three-hit performance in his last four outings in Wednesday’s 8-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs. Tampa Bay and Baltimore face uphill climbs as the former resides four games behind Minnesota for the second wild-card spot with 10 games remaining while the latter is 5 1/2 out with nine contests left on its schedule.
TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, FSN Sun (Tampa Bay), MASN (Baltimore)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Rays RH Matt Andriese (5-3, 4.44 ERA) vs. Orioles RH Gabriel Ynoa (1-2, 4.18)
Andriese saw his winless stretch extend to six outings on Friday after he permitted two runs on five hits over 4 1/3 innings versus Boston. The 28-year-old surrendered a homer in that contest and has been taken deep four times in his last three. Andriese has yielded two career homers to Chris Davis (4-for-9) and struggled against Adam Jones (5-for-11) and J.J. Hardy (3-for-7), although he has kept Manny Machado (2-for-9) and Jonathan Schoop (2-for-9) in check.
Ynoa recorded his second loss in as many trips to the mound after allowing three runs on five hits in 4 1/3 innings of an 8-2 setback at the New York Yankees. “Slider was there for him,” manager Buck Showalter told reporters of the 24-year-old Dominican. “Some command of fastball was a challenge for him but gave us a chance and it was a good experience for him.” Ynoa, who will be making his 18th career appearance and sixth start, will get his first look at Tampa Bay - although he has surrendered a hit and an RBI in his lone official at-bats versus Ramos and Adeiny Hechavarria.
1. Tampa Bay 3B Evan Longoria has recorded six multi-hit performances in his last 14 games.
2. Machado’s availability for the series opener is in question as he battles an illness.
3. Rays RF Steven Souza Jr., who homered on Wednesday, is just 4-for-44 with 22 strikeouts this month.
PREDICTION: Orioles 3, Rays 2