After dropping three of four to the defending American League champion Cleveland Indians at Camden Yards, the Orioles will look to avoid falling into sole last place in the division over a three-game set in Tampa.
The O’s kick off a six-game road trip starting this weekend at “The Trop.” For the Orioles, a lengthy stint on tour is just about the worst thing that they could have asked for due to their well-documented struggles away from the Yard this season.
After the Orioles (35-37) wrap up their weekend stay in Tampa, they’ll take a long-distance flight across the Northern border to take on the Blue Jays before returning home to host the Rays. After that brief home stand, the Orioles will hit the road yet again for a two-legged tour consisting of a three-game set in Milwaukee and a four-game stint in the Twin Cities before finally hitting the All-Star Break.
If you’re counting, that’s a stretch consisting of thirteen road games in a sixteen-game span before hitting the break.
That’s not exactly ideal when you’ve got two wins on the road over the last seven weeks. Since topping the Red Sox at Fenway on May 4th, the Orioles have gone just 2-16 while on tour since and own a dismal 11-23 record on the road thus far on the year.
The Rays (39-36) on the other hand, will be feeling pretty good due to racking up four wins out of their last five after stumbling through the first half of June. As a result, the third-place Rays find themselves just 2.5-games off the pace of the joint-division leading Yankees and Red Sox as they prepare to host the Orioles. Tampa boasts an impressive 23-16 mark at the Trop thus far on the year.
The other bit of bad news is that the Orioles struggling pitching staff will have to take on the fourth-highest scoring (4.8 runs per game) and the second-most powerful (115 HR) offense in the American League this weekend. The record might be theirs come Sunday.
But enough of that. If you’re looking for some positivity, it’s that the Orioles have owned the Rays to the tune of a 37-23 record since the start of the 2014 campaign.
On that note, let’s take a look at the starters.
In his first start since May 22nd, Jimenez was absolutely dominant versus St. Louis, allowing just two runs on four hits over seven sparkling innings. The win was Jimenez’s first since April 19th. Believe it or not, the Orioles are 6-3 when Jimenez starts the game on the mound. Over nine career starts versus Tampa Bay, the Orioles sporadic veteran owns a rock-solid 5-2 record and 3.47 ERA.
Archer may have just snapped a three-week winless skid after holding the Tigers to two runs on six hits over six innings during his last start, but he’s been nothing short of spectacular this season. He’s allowed three runs or fewer in ten of his fifteen starts on the year, while he’s also recorded ten-plus strikeouts in five of his last nine outings. He’s bringing it right now.
After getting tagged to the sound of six runs on six hits over just 4 1/3 innings versus Cleveland during his last start, Bundy has won just twice in his last eight attempts. Over four starts in the month of June, Bundy has gone 1-3 with a 6.64 ERA and owns a 7.63 ERA over his last three outings.
Faria on the other hand, has gotten off to an almost flawless start to his major league career. The 23-year-old has won each of his first three career starts while allowing just one run over six-plus innings in each of them. He’s also recorded 22 strikeouts to just four walks over his first 19 2/3 major league innings without allowing a single home run. Here’s hoping that the Orioles can bring him down to earth a little bit.
After allowing five runs on eight hits over just four innings during his last start versus the Tribe, Tillman remains winless since his season debut on May 7th. The struggling veteran will try to forget about his 16.03 ERA over his last three starts, and the fact that he’s 0-5 with a 11.47 ERA over his last six outings. Can Tillman finally get his season on track at the Trop?
Odorizzi took a tough luck no-decision after allowing three runs on five hits over seven innings during his last start versus the Reds, but he’ll feel confident nonetheless going into his next start. After posting a stellar 2.78 ERA over six starts in May, he’s posted a subpar 5.31 ERA over four starts thus far in the month of June. The Rays standout hurler also owns a rock-solid 3.22 ERA over seven starts at home on the year.
With last place looming, the Orioles must recover from their letdown against the Tribe quickly.
On the bright side, they remain in the thick of the wild card chase. This season is far from over, but the clock is ticking. Consistency remains vital going forward.
Can the Orioles right the ship, or will they get knocked into the cellar?
It’s anyone’s guess, really. Let’s hope for the former.