The Rays look to get back to their winning ways, as they welcome the Baltimore Orioles to Tropicana Field for a three game set. Tampa limps into this series having dropped three of their last four and winning just five of their last eleven games. In that stretch, James Shields is 2-0, while the rest of Tampa’s starters are just 2-6.
Though the pitching has not been stellar, it has been more than solid enough to win most nights. The problematic Rays offense has been even more troubled recently. The Rays’ stars just haven’t been delivering. Evan Longoria, B.J. Upton and Johnny Damon are batting a combined .192 in the last ten games. Even Desmond Jennings, who has been stellar since being called up in July, has slumped. He was held hitless in 12 at-bats on the road in Texas.
While batting average has been a problem all year for the Rays, but they have still found ways to score runs. Despite being next to last in the league in average the Rays have been just under the American League average in runs. In the last couple weeks that hasn’t been the case. Take out a 12 run outburst in a game at Toronto and the Rays are averaging well under three runs a game since their series sweep of Seattle.
Maybe the Orioles’ pitching staff is just the remedy for their offensive woes. Baltimore has given up the most hits in the league this year and they have the highest staff ERA as well. In their last five games they have given up an average of over seven runs per game. Sounds good, right? Well, the Rays batting average against Baltimore of .240 is lower than their average on the season as a whole.
I look for the Rays to play well this weekend. I think the bats will come alive and the Rays will be able to score some runs against Baltimore’s pitching. Friday night’s matchup will be crucial, with Zach Britton squaring off against David Price. Britton is coming off a shut down performance of the Yankees so expect this one to be a pitchers’ duel, a common theme for the Rays this season. In games two and three, the Rays have Wade Davis and Jeremy Hellickson taking the mound.
Prediction: Rays get the sweep they desperately need, setting up another key series against the Rangers.