Orioles-Rays Preview

With a slim AL East lead and seven games to play, the Tampa Bay

Rays can use all the wins they can get.

Victories have been the norm lately with Wade Davis on the

mound.

Davis seeks his eighth straight win when the Rays open a

three-game home series against the Baltimore Orioles on Monday

night.

The Rays (93-62) remain in the driver’s seat for their second

division title in three years, but saw their lead trimmed to

one-half game Sunday. They lost 6-2 to Seattle in the afternoon,

snapping a four-game winning streak, and New York defeated Boston

4-3 that night.

While the Yankees gained ground on Tampa Bay, they also allowed

the Rays to clinch at least a tie for a playoff spot by beating the

Red Sox.

Manager Joe Maddon was not concerned about Sunday’s loss.

“I think the wonderful thing about our group is we have a very

short memory and it has nothing to do with lack of intellect,”

Maddon said. “I think it’s just the fact that we’re able to process

the day properly and move on to the next day.”

Having Davis (12-9, 4.13 ERA) on the mound Monday may have a lot

to do with Maddon’s comfort level. The right-hander has gone 7-0

with a 3.19 ERA in his last 11 starts and 3-0 with a 1.86 in four

career starts against Baltimore.

He pitched his only shutout and earned his first career win by

beating the Orioles 3-0 on Sept. 17, 2009, in his third major

league start.

The AL rookie of the month for July threw 2 1-3 hitless innings

at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, but a two-hour rain delay cut his

outing short.

The Rays may not have third baseman Evan Longoria, who has

missed the last three games with a left quadriceps strain and was

scheduled to be re-evaluated Monday. Maddon said the three-time

All-Star’s status is unknown.

A bright spot for Baltimore (61-94), Brian Matusz (8-12, 4.59)

will try to extend his own winning streak.

Matusz has gone 4-0 with a 1.91 ERA over his last six starts but

has been knocked around by Tampa Bay in his career, posting a 6.23

ERA over four starts. The left-hander surrendered five runs in a

7-3 loss at Tropicana Field on Aug. 14.

Despite suffering a left triceps contusion in his previous

outing, Matusz was able to start against Boston on Monday. He

limited the Red Sox to one run and three hits over five innings,

but did not receive a decision in the Orioles’ 4-2 win.

Carl Crawford is batting .404 with two homers versus the Orioles

this season, but is 0-7 with three strikeouts lifetime against

Matusz.

The Orioles won’t have manager Buck Showalter on Monday, as the

manager has been suspended one game after his team’s run-in with

Toronto over the weekend. Reliever Alfredo Simon was suspended

three games for his role, but appealed his penalty and can continue

to play until the process is complete.

Baltimore has dropped four straight on its nine-game road trip,

losing 5-2 to Toronto on Sunday.

Nick Markakis is 1-13 against Davis in his career.

The Rays lead season series 10-5.