ORIOLES (24-60) AT RAYS (49-36)
7:10 p.m. ET; FS-SUN, MASN, MLB.TV
The Tampa Bay Rays have two All-Star selections on their roster, and manager Kevin Cash will count on one of them heavily on Tuesday.
After the Rays’ 6-3 win over Baltimore in the opener of a three-game series on Monday, Morton (8-2, 2.43 ERA) will start Tuesday night at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.
The 35-year-old veteran was named to the July game for the second time in his career, as he made the AL squad last season as a member of the Houston Astros (+1.5).
The Rays inked Morton to the highest salary in club history in December, signing the 12-year veteran to a two-year, $30 million contract.
He sports a 3-1 record and a 3.21 ERA in front of the home crowd at the Trop, and he will be making his first appearance against the Orioles in 2019.
The New Jersey native carries a 1-2 mark with a 4.41 ERA in four career starts against Baltimore, lasting just 16 1/3 innings total and allowing 19 hits and 11 runs (eight earned).
As for being selected to the All-Star Game, Morton was a man of few words and quite reflective about his second straight season being chosen to represent the AL side.
“It’s pretty humbling because I know that a lot of my peers voted for me to go,” Morton said. “That means a lot.”
However, with Morton scheduled to start on Sunday in Tampa Bay’s final game before the break, the right-hander won’t pitch in Cleveland in the Midsummer Classic two days later.
The Orioles were expected to start Dylan Bundy on Tuesday but instead are going with newcomer Asher Wojciechowski, who was acquired by Baltimore on Monday from the Cleveland Indians (-1.5) in exchange for cash considerations.
The 30-year-old right-hander, who spent part of the 2018 season with the Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate but hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2017 with the Cincinnati Reds (-1.5), was voted to the Triple-A All-Star Game last week. He was 8-2 with a 3.61 ERA in 15 starts this season for Triple-A Columbus.
Bundy will now receive a few additional days of rest before his next start as manager Brandon Hyde decided to shuffle his rotation heading into the All-Star break.
“I think that we have faced challenges all year, juggling rotation, not having your normal five starters that you roll out there,” Hyde told the Baltimore Sun. “We’ve been mixing and matching all year long with many roster moves and transactions and the Triple-A shuttle.
“We have these off-days to play with and need arms. It’s just one of those things with where we are from a pitching-staff standpoint right now.”
Hyde watched his staff author two outstanding outings against the Cleveland Indians on Friday and Saturday, becoming the first team in major league history to toss two consecutive shutouts scoring at least 13 runs in each game.
However, the Orioles subsequently lost 2-0 in the series finale vs. Cleveland before dropping the opener at Tampa Bay.
Baltimore’s Monday starter, Tom Eshelman, made his major league debut and was in line for the win after the Orioles went up 3-2 in the sixth after he threw five innings of two-run ball. The bullpen faltered, though, as Tampa Bay scored four late runs.
“It starts with starting pitching. There’s no doubt about it,” said Hyde, who club is an major-league-worst 24-60.
–Field Level Media