The Baltimore Orioles struggled through a recent rough 10-game stretch at home, so their push for the postseason will have to start in Florida instead.
Manager Brandon Hyde’s club will open a three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night.
When the Orioles, who sit at .500 through 28 games, get to Tropicana Field for the opener, they will know one thing: They must win the series against the first-place Rays to start moving up in the division standings.
After losing the first two games against the last-place Boston Red Sox, Hyde’s team rallied to win a pair of 5-4 contests on Saturday and Sunday, gladly ending a homestand that ended with a 3-7 record.
Inside of that mark was an extremely poor stretch — the club lost six straight to Washington, Toronto and Boston after a 7-3 victory over the Nationals on Aug. 15.
“I’m just glad we won the last two games of the series,” said Hyde. “We now face a good Tampa club. They are playing great baseball right now.”
While the opposition outscored Baltimore 67-42 over the 10 games at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Hyde’s bunch has had good success against Tampa Bay — they beat their division rival in all three meetings this season, all in Baltimore, and allowed just eight runs.
“I’m not concerned about our record,” Hyde added. “It’s about how we play. I would like to clean up some things offensively … but a win is a win. It’s nice to get a split (against Boston) after losing the first two games.”
Baltimore’s battery of starting pitcher Wade LeBlanc (left elbow discomfort) and catcher Pedro Severino (right hip flexor tightness) both left Sunday’s game. Tom Eshelman relieved LeBlanc and was rock solid, not allowing a run or a hit over 4 1/3 innings.
Tommy Milone (1-3, 4.13 ERA) will make his sixth start and second against the Rays this season. He had a no-decision in Baltimore’s 5-1 win on Aug. 2, allowing one run in five innings. He holds a 3-4 career mark with a 6.18 ERA in nine appearances — six starts — against them.
Rays manager Kevin Cash watched two moments in his team’s 6-4 loss Monday to Toronto that were disconcerting — his bullpen letting a lead get away and another player suffering an injury.
Randal Grichuk hit a three-run homer off reliever Aaron Loup in the seventh — just one batter after Cavan Biggio reached base on catcher’s interference. Cash got the lefty-on-lefty matchup he wanted against Biggio, but the righty-hitting Grichuk changed the game with one swing.
The Rays finished their season series with the Blue Jays by winning six of the 10 games and reached the 60-game season’s midpoint with a 19-11 record.
Kevin Kiermaier, who made a diving catch in the second inning to rob Danny Jansen of a hit, was struck solidly in the right foot by a pitch from winning pitcher Thomas Hatch in the sixth.
His X-rays came back negative, and the hustling center fielder would have likely missed Tuesday’s game anyway against the lefty Milone and should be out of the lineup for the series opener.
While the news was good on Kiermaier, Cash — who has nine pitchers on the injured list — added, “We’ve got to find a way to get our guys back.”
Fresh off his best of five starts, right-hander Tyler Glasnow (0-1, 6.00 ERA) will make his second against Baltimore. He did not receive a decision on Aug. 1 when he allowed two runs on three hits in 4 2/3 innings of a game the Rays eventually lost 5-4. He is 2-0 with a 1.99 ERA in four career starts against the Orioles.
–Field Level Media