RAYS (74-54) AT ORIOLES (41-86)
7:05 p.m. ET; MASN2, FS-SUN, MLB.TV
The Tampa Bay Rays are busy with the late-season playoff race, and they’ll be coming to Baltimore to start a four-game weekend series with the Orioles on Thursday night.
The Rays are coming to town after beating Seattle 7-6 thanks to a walk-off win — via a wild pitch — in the ninth inning Wednesday afternoon at home. Tampa Bay ended Wednesday’s game in the American League’s second wild-card slot, but there is more than a month left in the regular season.
Left-hander Ryan Yarbrough (11-3, 3.34 ERA) will start for Tampa Bay against right Asher Wojciechowski (2-6, 4.78).
Yarbrough will be looking to continue a torrid run. He is 6-0 in his past 11 appearances and has 23 strikeouts with a 0.46 ERA over 19 2/3 innings in three appearances in August.
“I just feel like I’m in a really good place right now,” Yarbrough told MLB.com. “Obviously, when you have a couple of outings like that, confidence builds. To go out there when you know what you’re going to be able to do and put yourself in a good position, you get some good outcomes.”
Kevin Kiermaier came up big in the Wednesday win. He got a game-tying homer in the ninth, and Tampa Bay scored on the wild pitch later on to pull out the victory.
MLB.com said Kiermaier — who has gone 4-for-8 with five RBI over the last two games — has given the Rays a lift. He finished Wednesday’s game with four RBI also the solo homer was the biggest hit.
Closer Emilio Pagan got the win in relief despite giving up three runs to the Mariners in the ninth and blowing the save. But he got out of the inning, escaping a tough jam, and that set up the two-run rally in the bottom half.
Yarbrough has a 3-0 career record plus a 2.96 ERA versus the Orioles in five appearances. In his last outing against the Detroit Tigers on Aug. 21, he pitched 6 1/3 shutout innings, striking out 10 batters and allowing only three hits with no walks.
Wojciechowski has an 0-1 record and a 6.00 ERA in just two games (one start) against Tampa Bay. The right-hander has been a bit streaky for the Orioles since he came into the starting rotation, good at times but inconsistent overall.
The Orioles come into the Tampa Bay series on a two-game winning streak. They won the final two games of a three-game set against Kansas City, the last being an 8-1 victory on Wednesday night.
In that game, Baltimore banged out four homers, the biggest being a three-run shot from Hanser Alberto. The versatile infielder has been one of the team’s most pleasant surprises this season.
His three-run homer was the second straight game he had a three-run blast. He did it in Tuesday’s 4-1 victory, and that came in the eighth inning and snapped a 1-1 tie. Alberto now has a .317 average this season and is tops in the major leagues against left-handed pitching with a minimum of 63 at-bats against southpaws.
“Hanser has really taken advantage of his opportunity to play and gotten big hits for us,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said after Wednesday’s win. “He’s got some sneaky power that I don’t think anybody knew he had. He’s just playing baseball.”
Baltimore also has done better when it’s been able to find some power. Jonathan Villar, Anthony Santander and Renato Nunez also hit homers in Wednesday’s win.
Santander had been hot up until the last several games. His home run broke a 2-for-36 skid, and Nunez then homered on the next pitch for a 5-1 lead. He was 1-for-18 before that blast.
–Field Level Media