The Baltimore Orioles hope for more key hits in pivotal moments when they host the Tampa Bay Rays in the rubber match of a three-game series on Wednesday.
Baltimore went 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position in a 4-2 win on Tuesday, a welcome relief after the previous few days. The Orioles had gone an abysmal 2-for-29 in that situation during their three-game losing streak, including an 0-for-6 showing in a 3-0 setback to the Rays on Monday.
Wander Franco went deep to put the Rays up 1-0 in the first inning on Tuesday before the Orioles went in front for good in the third.
The big blow was Adley Rutschman’s two-run homer to right field off Zach Eflin that put Baltimore on top 3-1. Rutschman had gone 0-for-17 in the previous five games, and he hadn’t homered since April 13, a span of 22 games.
“That was huge for (Adley) and huge for us,” Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde said of the blast. “He’s been really grinding and working hard.”
Ryan Mountcastle continued his hot streak for the Orioles, going 2-for-4. He has seven multi-hit games in his past 15 contests, batting .318 (21-for-66) in that span and raising his average from .213 to .258.
The Orioles will look to take the series behind right-hander Dean Kremer (3-1, 5.80 ERA), who is coming off one of his best outings of the young season.
After collectively allowing nine runs on 18 hits over 10 2/3 innings in his previous two starts against the Boston Red Sox and the Detroit Tigers, Kremer shut down the host Atlanta Braves on Friday. He yielded a run on six hits with three strikeouts and two walks in six innings to pick up the win as the Orioles prevailed 9-4.
Kremer, however, hasn’t been very good in his four starts all-time against the Rays, going 0-1 with a 4.00 ERA. He recorded 16 strikeouts and eight walks over 18 innings during those outings.
The Rays, who are coming off just their third loss in the past 12 games, will counter with Jalen Beeks (1-2, 6.75 ERA) as an opener before Yonny Chirinos (1-0, 1.86) serves as the bulk pitcher.
Chirinos has been mostly used out of the bullpen this year (four of his five outings) but started in his latest appearance, against the visiting New York Yankees on Friday. Chirinos allowed three runs on three hits with no strikeouts and four walks in 5 1/3 innings, and he wasn’t involved in the decision as Tampa Bay won 5-4.
Chirinos has fared well against the Orioles throughout his career, going 4-2 with a 3.05 ERA with 32 strikeouts against just six walks spanning seven appearances (four starts) and 38 1/3 innings.
The Rays got solo home runs from Franco and Taylor Walls on Tuesday, marking their majors-leading 22nd multi-homer game this season. However, they lost for the third time when going deep at least twice.
“(We’re) just a group of guys that are doing a lot of things well,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. “All facets of our team are performing really, really well.”
–Field Level Media