The Tampa Bay Rays need a lot of help and a near-perfect finish to reach the postseason, but they are intent on ending 2017 strong as they go for a series victory against the host Baltimore Orioles on Sunday. Tampa Bay is five games behind Minnesota for the American League’s second wild card with seven to play but flexed its muscles by scoring 17 runs while winning its last two contests.
The Rays went deep twice to set a franchise record with 218 homers - topping last year’s 216 - in a 9-6 victory on Saturday and Chris Archer will try to turn his month around when he takes the mound for the series finale. Baltimore counters with ace Dylan Bundy, but it was eliminated from playoff consideration Saturday after losing for the 14th time in 17 games despite a five-run rally in the ninth inning. The Orioles will finish under .500 for the first time since 2011 and must put together a few wins over their final six games to avoid finishing last in the AL East. Rookie Trey Mancini has been a major bright spot in an otherwise disappointing season for Baltimore and is riding a 13-game hitting streak during which he is 18-for-54.
TV: 1:35 p.m. ET, FSN Sun (Tampa Bay), MASN2 (Baltimore)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Rays RH Chris Archer (9-11, 4.02 ERA) vs. Orioles RH Dylan Bundy (13-9, 4.24)
Archer recorded his first quality start in four outings this month on Tuesday, when he allowed two runs over six innings in a 2-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs. The 28-year-old, who is 4-7 lifetime against the Orioles, is 0-4 with a 9.00 ERA this month after combining to post a 3.26 ERA over July and August while going 3-2. Jonathan Schoop is 8-for-22 versus Archer, who is 11 strikeouts away from matching the career high of 252 he set in 2015 and 7 2/3 innings from his third straight with 200.
Bundy is winless in his last three starts after giving up six runs and seven hits over 4 1/3 innings of a no-decision against Boston on Monday. The 24-year-old Oklahoma native still has produced six quality starts in his last eight outings, serving up five homers in that span after permitting 21 in his first 20 appearances. Eva Longoria (13 at-bats) and Logan Morrison (12) have each gone deep twice versus Bundy, who is 1-1 with a 5.19 ERA in three starts against the Rays in 2017.
1. Tampa Bay C Wilson Ramos, who belted a grand slam on Friday, is 15-for-34 with four homers and 12 RBIs over his last 10 games.
2. Baltimore CF Adam Jones is 7-for-16 in his last four games while teammate 3B Manny Machado has hit safely in six straight contests.
3. Rays RHP Alex Colome, who notched his 46th save Saturday, is two shy of the franchise’s single-season record set in 2012 by Fernando Rodney.
PREDICTION: Rays 4, Orioles 3