The Baltimore Orioles and visiting Tampa Bay Rays open a pivotal four-game set on Monday after both teams dropped their series this past weekend.
The Orioles, who dropped two of three contests against the American League East Division-leading Yankees, have a losing record at 47-48. But Baltimore has shown tremendous improvement this season, considering they needed 146 games to post their 47th win last season.
Baltimore lost two of three games before the All-Star break to the Rays, who dropped the last two games they played against the Royals this weekend.
Among the AL’s three wild-card teams, Tampa Bay currently sits in second, while the Orioles are one of four teams within 3.5 games away from the final wild-card spot.
“I believe in this group of hitters here and lately it’s been rough, and hopefully we can do things as a team, put some runs on the board,” Orioles catcher Robinson Chirinos told reporters after Sunday’s loss. “Our pitchers are doing a really good job and they keep it — even like today — they keep us close on the scoreboard.”
The Orioles, who are coming off a 6-0 loss to the Yankees on Sunday, will turn to Austin Voth (1-1, 6.38 ERA) for Monday’s opener. In his last appearance, he allowed one hit and a walk while picking up two strikeouts in just 2 1/3 innings against the Rays on July 16.
The right-hander has been terrific in his four appearances (two starts) against the Rays in his career. He’s allowed just one run on eight hits with 13 strikeouts and five walks in 11 innings, good for an ERA of just 0.82.
The Rays will counter with two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber (6-5, 3.73 ERA), who hasn’t pitched since picking up the win in a 7-5 victory over the Orioles on July 17. He surrendered four runs on eight hits with a walk and three strikeouts.
The right-hander is 6-2 with a 3.27 ERA in 14 appearances (all starts) against the Orioles in his career. Kluber has tallied 88 strikeouts and issued just 22 walks in 85 1/3 innings.
The Orioles mustered just eight hits on Sunday against the Yankees. They had just one runner advance past second base after rallying from a 3-0 deficit for a 6-3 win on Saturday.
The Rays are coming off a 4-2 loss to the Royals in which Tampa Bay was held to five hits after falling 6-3 on Saturday.
Tampa Bay hitters have struck out 19 times in their past two games.
“Just kind of a frustrating game,” manager Kevin Cash said. “We didn’t hit, we didn’t defend as well as we could.
“I expect to win every series, simple as that. The Royals played well. We’re a good team. We should find ways to win series.”
Randy Arozarena could play a major role in getting the Rays’ offense back on track, considering he’s been dominant against them throughout his career.
The Tampa Bay outfielder enters Monday’s meeting sporting a .380 average with 13 home runs and 29 RBIs in 30 games against Baltimore.
–Field Level Media