Orioles-Rays Preview

The Tampa Bay Rays failed to secure a playoff spot in their last

game, but with David Price taking the mound, they have to like

their chances to celebrate at home Tuesday night against the

Baltimore Orioles.

Evan Longoria just hopes some fans will show up to witness the

potential clincher.

Price (18-6, 2.84 ERA) looks to help Tampa Bay avoid a

three-game losing streak after dropping Monday’s series opener 4-0

to Baltimore. The Rays’ magic number to clinch a playoff spot

remained at one, while they maintained an AL East lead of one-half

game over the New York Yankees, who lost to Toronto.

Either Tampa Bay’s next win or Boston’s next loss will put the

Rays in the playoffs.

Although the Rays (93-63) have struggled to close things out,

going 12-12 in September, Price is having an outstanding month to

boost his chances for the AL Cy Young Award.

Tampa Bay has won all five of Price’s starts in September,

during which he has a 2.06 ERA. He won his third straight decision

Thursday, giving up three runs while striking out seven in six

innings of a 10-3 victory over the Yankees.

Price sports a 2.11 ERA at home this season and ranks third in

the AL in both wins and ERA, but manager Joe Maddon isn’t assuming

anything for Tuesday.

“I’m not a chicken counter. You just go out and play the game

and see what happens,” Maddon said. “I like the fact that David’s

out there. We’ve just got to go out there and play a good game of

baseball.”

The left-hander is 3-0 with a 2.59 ERA in four career starts

against the Orioles, including a 9-1 win April 14 at Camden Yards

in which he allowed one run and four hits in seven innings.

If Tampa Bay clinches, few might be present to witness it.

Monday’s announced crowd was 12,446 – well below the already-paltry

23,047 the Rays are averaging at Tropicana Field.

“It’s a tough situation for us. A lot of the visiting teams come

in and wonder where are all the fans. It’s a little bit

embarrassing for us,” Longoria said. “Again, we’re one game away

from clinching a postseason spot. We have enough guys in this room

to celebrate with, but we’d love to celebrate with the fans, too.

It’s just tough to see that.”

Longoria missed his fourth straight game Monday with a strained

left quadriceps. Maddon said he most likely will sit out the

remainder of the series.

The Orioles (62-94) snapped a four-game losing streak in the

series opener. Nick Markakis had two hits and drove in two

runs.

Baltimore starter Brad Bergesen (8-10 4.90) will try to continue

his recent success and reverse his fortunes versus Tampa Bay.

The right-hander has won his last two starts and is 5-1 with a

2.29 ERA in his last nine. He gave up one run in six innings of a

9-1 victory at Boston last Tuesday.

Bergesen is 0-3 with a 9.00 ERA lifetime against the Rays,

including two losses this season in which he allowed 13 runs over 8

1-3 innings.