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Rays hope to carry momentum into series finale vs. O’s

Sportsnaut
Jun 14, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Corey Kluber (28) pitches the ball against the New York Yankees during the first inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tom Horak-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Tom Horak-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay’s offense has been quiet most of the week, but there could be reason for optimism as the Rays prepare to face the host Baltimore Orioles in the rubber match of a three-game series on Sunday.

After scoring a total of four runs during their four-game losing streak, the Rays recorded 14 hits in a 7-6 win over the Orioles on Saturday.

Ji-Man Choi hit a two-run homer and Harold Ramirez drove in three runs while Francisco Mejia had a career-high four hits and Yandy Diaz had three.

Tampa Bay, which is 2-6 on its nine-game road trip, jumped to a 6-2 lead before Baltimore tied the game in the sixth inning. The Rays won in the ninth when Ramirez’s tiebreaking sacrifice fly scored Diaz from third.

“It was nice to get some runs early and ultimately win the game,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. “It looked like we had a solid approach and awareness out there.”

Tampa Bay outfielder Kevin Kiermaier returned to the lineup Saturday after missing two games due to left Achilles/calf tightness and went 1-for-4 from the leadoff spot.

Baltimore was led by catcher Robinson Chirinos, who entered Saturday’s contest batting .144 but had three hits and four RBIs in the loss.

“I figured out something in the cage today,” Chirinos said. “I think it’s going to make a difference in my season, so that was good to feel that in the cage and see the result in the game right away.”

Baltimore relievers have allowed just three earned runs over the last five games across 18 2/3 innings, with Felix Bautista, Cionel Perez and Jorge Lopez leading the way.

Lopez, 29, has an 0.82 ERA with 34 strikeouts in 33 innings while converting 10 of 12 saves.

Baltimore will send right-hander Jordan Lyles (4-5, 5.10 ERA) to the mound in the series finale. Lyles allowed four runs on five hits over 5 1/3 innings in a 6-5 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday.

Lyles, 31, had given up a combined 13 earned runs over his previous three starts before earning the victory against the Blue Jays.

“This will give me confidence to get back on track,” Lyles said. “I had a little slide the last few weeks. And hopefully I take this and get on the ground running.”

Lyles is 1-1 with a 2.93 ERA in five outings at Camden Yards this season. He is 0-1 with a 4.29 ERA in four career games (three starts) against Tampa Bay.

Right-hander Corey Kluber (3-3, 3.50) will take the mound for Tampa Bay. He has posted a 2.53 ERA in his last six starts covering 32 innings.

Kluber, 36, allowed two unearned runs on four hits over six frames in a 2-0 loss to the New York Yankees on Tuesday.

The two-time Cy Young award winner retired nine of his first 11 batters faced, but he was victimized by a pair of Tampa Bay errors in the fourth inning.

Rougned Odor is 6-for-13 with two home runs against Kluber, who is 5-1 with a 3.07 ERA in 12 career starts against Baltimore, including a 3.45 ERA in nine outings at Camden Yards.

Kluber last faced the Orioles on May 22, when he recorded his shortest start of the season and allowed two runs in three innings while throwing 73 pitches.

–Field Level Media