Life is good right now at Camden Yards for the Baltimore Orioles.
But in order to extend their success at home, they’ll have to get by Drew Smyly, who has found new life since joining the Tampa Bay Rays.
Baltimore seeks a season-best fifth straight home victory Wednesday night against Smyly and Tampa Bay.
Baltimore (75-55) wasn’t as explosive offensively Tuesday as it was in its 9-1 victory in Monday’s series opener. However, the bullpen put together 4 1-3 scoreless innings of one-hit ball to make a 4-2 win stand up and push the club’s lead to seven games in the AL East. Orioles relievers own a 1.27 ERA over the last 10 games.
"Coming off last night, we had such a great game and you want to kind of repeat it, but the pace of the game kind of slows your excitement down a little bit," said rookie Caleb Joseph, who had two RBIs. "You’ve got to stay into it, and our guys did a great job."
Nelson Cruz recorded two hits and has batted .391 with seven RBIs and six runs scored over his last six home games. Meanwhile, Steve Pearce has scored nine runs while batting .342 with four homers during a career-best nine-game hitting streak.
This marks the third time this season the Orioles have won four in a row at home, but they haven’t won five straight since May 21-31, 2013. They’re averaging 5.0 runs with a 2.63 team ERA while going 17-5 at Camden Yards for the majors’ best home record since June 30.
They’ll take on Smyly (8-10, 3.42 ERA), who is 2-1 with a 1.55 ERA in four starts – and a 0.76 mark in the last three – since being acquired from Detroit at the trade deadline. He two-hit Toronto in an 8-0 road victory on Friday for his first career complete game.
Smyly retired the final 19 batters in "the best pitching performance I’ve seen from a Ray in this ballpark," manager Joe Maddon told MLB’s official website.
"You have to do your job and be on point from inning one to inning nine to usually throw a complete game," Smyly said. "It’s tough; not many do it. It’s a good mark to reach and a big accomplishment for me."
Tampa Bay (64-68) could use another strong showing from Smyly after scoring just five runs over its last three contests. Evan Longoria drove in both runs Tuesday for the Rays, who stranded nine runners.
"It’s the same refrain – inability to score with runners in scoring position," Maddon said.
Kevin Gausman (7-5, 3.81 ERA) will try to keep Tampa Bay stymied. He didn’t walk a batter for the first time in seven starts when he faced the Chicago Cubs on Friday, but he yielded three runs – two on solo homers – over five innings in a 4-1 loss. The right-hander hadn’t surrendered multiple homers since June 13, 2013.
"It’s one of those things where you learn from it, try to take what you can and move past it," he said.
Gausman has given up five or more runs in two of his three career starts versus Tampa Bay, including a 5-2 home loss on June 27 when he yielded five runs in five-plus innings.
Ben Zobrist is 5 for 9 against Gausman and Yunel Escobar is 4 for 5.