Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Orioles-Rays series primer

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The standings in both the American League East and AL Wild Card races are tighter than an adult large shirt on C.C. Sabathia.

In the division, the Yankees are just one game up on the O’s, who are in turn just one game up on Tampa. For the Wild Card, Oakland is two up on everybody for the top spot, and the O’s are holding the second spot by a game over Tampa and 1.5 over the LA Angels.

Yeah, things are tight with just three weeks left to play.

All that said, things don’t get any easier or less crucial for the O’s following their weekend series split with the Yankees, as those aforementioned Tampa Bay Rays come to Baltimore for a three-game set.

On Tuesday, Jason Hammel makes his second start after coming back from a knee injury. In his first back, last Thursday, he was very good, giving up just one run on six hits in five-plus innings. He was denied the win after a furious late Yankees comeback, but the O’s ultimately came out on top.

Hammel was the Birds’ Ace for much of the season before getting hurt, and they’ll need his dominating performances to make a reappearance here down the stretch.

He opposes Matt Moore of Tampa, who has lost his previous two starts. The lefty is 10-9 with a 3.66 ERA, but gave up six runs (four earned) on eight hits in 6.1 against New York last Wednesday. He did still manage nine strikeouts, however.

Wednesday, Miguel Gonzalez (6-4, 3.62) takes on Alex Cobb (9-8, 4.28), and Thursday Jeremy Hellickson (8-10, 3.33) takes the mound against – well, the O’s haven’t said yet.

Tampa is on a tear lately, having won six of eight games in September (B’More is 5-4), including taking two of three from the mighty Texas Rangers over the weekend. On the bright side, the O’s will at least miss Rays Ace David Price this time around.

The O’s need to take two of three from the Rays – anything less will see them, at the very least, tied with Tampa when they leave town.

Get out to the Yard and support your O’s this week, Baltimore. If great orange crowds can do our part to power them to victories, we might just be able to keep this improbable run going, even after losing table-setter Nick Markakis, thanks to that aforementioned fat ass Sabathia.

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