The Baltimore Orioles come into Friday’s doubleheader against the Tampa Bay Rays with a record of 41-36. And when the four-game series is over, the Birds will have played 81 games on the season and be at the exact mid-point.
A sweep of the series would be very sweet, as it would put the O’s on a pace for 90 wins. I always say that a team needs to win at a pace of five out of every nine games, or nine of every 16 in order to be at 90-91 wins and in contention for a playoff spot. That would not seem to be that difficult to do; but in that it is, it demonstrates the parody that defines the sport right now.
With a record of 32-48, which is the worst in all of baseball, the Tampa Bay Rays are having the season from hell. Devastated with injuries, particularly to their pitching staff, it has been a daily struggle.
The Orioles have been a part of the beating up the Rays have suffered this season, as the O’s are 7-1 against their rivals while outscoring them 35-18. The seven wins are already more than the six against Tampa Bay over all of last year, along with 13 losses.
The afternoon game today features a couple of very young pitchers. The Rays will send out 25-year-old Alexander Colome, a right-hander who has pitched a total of 20 innings in his major league career, including just four this season in one outing against the Jays in May. His career minor league stats (and his scant MLB numbers) demonstrate a good arm with only a .227 average against, but he gives up a lot of walks – at least one every two innings. Think of Colome as a poor man’s Ubaldo!
Kevin Gausman will seek to replicate his June 18th start against the Rays where he shut them out on five hits over six innings. Gausman has only given up two runs on 14 hits in his last 19 innings.
In the evening game the Rays will be pitching the 23-year-old right-hander Jake Odorizzi against the Birds. He is 3-7 on the season with a 4.29 ERA. Opponents are not lighting him up however, as the average against is .239.
Chris Tillman (the old man starter today at age 26) will take to the hill with his 6-4, 4.45. He had a no-decision game against the Rays on May 6th, giving up three runs in six innings. This current Rays lineup only has a combined .221 average against Tillman. Longoria is a personal terror with five home runs against Tillman with his .407 11-for-27. Matt Joyce is .292 on 7-for-24. Everyone else is well-managed and under .200.