After keeping their playoff hopes alive over a ten-game home stand to kick off the second half of their campaign, the Orioles will now look to keep the good vibes flowing over a six-game, two-legged road trip.
The upcoming road trip will undoubtedly represent the most important six-game stretch away from home of the season for the Orioles. Not only will they start out with a three-game set versus the current co-holders of the second wild card spot in the form of the Tampa Bay Rays, they’ll then travel to Arlington to take on the team that’s right in front of them in the chase for October, the Rangers, over the weekend.
To say that this is a crucial week for the Orioles would be the definition of an understatement. If they can slug their way to a handful of wins, they’re right back on the doorstep of the playoff picture. If things go south this week, well things won’t nearly be as rosy, and our upbeat song will turn into a somber, bluesy ballad in a hurry.
To note that the deadline is exactly a week away gives the upcoming Orioles-Rays match-up more of a “Do-or-Die'” type of feeling. But hey, no pressure.
The fourth-place Orioles (47-51) remain seven games off the pace of the first place Red Sox, but are just 3.5-games out of the wild card picture as we approach the century mark of the season. A 5-5 start to the second half could have been better, but it could have easily been worse as well. The Orioles are in the middle of their third straight sub-.500 month with an 8-11 record thus far in July, but most of their struggles have happened while on tour as evidenced by a dismal 17-30 record away from Camden Yards. They’ll need to find a way to win ballgames on the road in the second half to have a legitimate chance of reaching the postseason, and they’ll be looking to reach that goal during their biggest week thus far.
The Tampa Bay Rays (51-48) are still holding down the third spot in the division and find themselves just 3.5-games behind the division-leading Red Sox, but a current four-game losing skid has resulted in the Royals tying them for the AL’s second and final wild card spot as we enter the final week of July. The Rays boast an impressive 27-22 record at Tropicana Field and have gone 9-8 thus far in July.
On the bright side, the Orioles own a 5-4 lead over the Rays in the 2017 season series, which has upped the O’s record versus the Rays to an impressive 40-26 since the start of the 2014 campaign. Baltimore has taken four of the past five season series versus their Floridian foes, and will be looking to inch closer to making it 5-of-6 this week.
Will the Orioles continue to gain ground in the wild card hunt, or will the Rays squash their visitors’ feel-good vibes before they jet out to Arlington? We’re about to find out. Let’s take a look at the starters.
Gausman was electric during his last start in which he held the Rangers to just a single run on four hits over six innings in a winning effort. The Orioles will need more of the same, and some consistency, from Gausman going forward. He had allowed thirteen runs on sixteen hits over just seven innings in his previous two starts combined before shutting it down versus Texas. Nonetheless, Gausman has gone 3-0 with a 4.97 ERA over his last five outings. However, his road struggles remain glaring as he’s gone 2-4 with a 7.98 ERA away from OPACY this season. Over twelve career games (ten starts) versus Tampa Bay, Gausman owns a 4-4 record and a 4.21 ERA.
Snell has gone through a nightmare campaign this season, and it didn’t get any brighter after allowing three runs on three hits over just four innings during his last start versus Oakland. He’s now gone 0-3 with a dismal 6.93 ERA over his last five outings, and he remains winless at The Trop this season with an 0-2 record and a 5.40 ERA.
Miley will be aiming to erase the memory of his last start in which he allowed five runs on seven hits over five innings versus Texas. He’s in quite a rut at the moment as he’s recorded an 11.18 ERA over his last two starts. Over his last nine outings, the Orioles southpaw has notched a 2-5 record and a 10.04 ERA. The silver lining here is that over ten career starts versus Tampa Bay, Miley has gone 4-3 with a stellar 2.60 ERA.
Faria is coming off of the worst start of his young career during which he allowed four runs on six hits over five innings versus the Athletics, but has been pure money for the Rays since being called up in June. The rookie stud has gone six-plus innings while allowing two runs or fewer in six of his eight career starts and has allowed one or no runs in five of eight. Faria remains perfect at Tropicana Field with a 2-0 record and a superb 2.45 ERA.
After getting tuned up to the sound of allowing six runs on ten hits over 5 1/3 innings versus the Astros, Jimenez has now gone 0-2 while allowing twelve runs on twenty-one hits over just nine innings of work over his last two outings. He’s gone 1-3 with a 9.95 ERA over his last four starts. He’s also gone 3-4 on the road this season despite owning a 6.39 ERA. Over ten career starts versus the Rays, Jimenez boasts a 5-3 record along with a 4.70 ERA.
Cobb continued his sensational run of form by holding the Rangers to just three runs on five hits over eight innings during his last start, and now boasts a 2-0 record and a stellar 1.54 ERA over his last three outings and 23 1/3 innings of work. He’s gone seven-plus innings while allowing one or no runs in three of his last five starts. Cobb has also been remarkable at home this season and owns a 4-3 record and a 2.75 ERA at The Trop on the year. To make matters worse for the Orioles, Cobb has gone 4-2 with an outstanding 2.69 ERA against them over ten career starts.
That’s it for now, Orioles fans! Can I get a Let’s go O’s?!?!?
Here’s to heading to Arlington on a high note!