Preview: Rays embark on long road trip, beginning with showdown against Orioles
TV: FOX Sports Sun
TIME: Pregame coverage begins at 6:30 p.m.
BALTIMORE — The Tampa Bay Rays know the importance of getting off to a solid start as they embark on an 11-game road trip beginning Friday night against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards.
After stringing together eight straight wins late last month, Tampa Bay has struggled for the past two weeks. The Rays (15-19) have lost six of nine and need to get back to playing better fundamental baseball.
The Orioles (10-27) are seeking their first three-game winning streak of the season.
“We’ve got to execute at the plate when we have opportunities,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “And we’ve got to execute when we’re on the mound. The more that we can practice in theory we’re going to be better for it, and kind of change that around to where we’re finding ways to win tight ballgames.”
The Orioles (10-27) have been mired in last place in the American League East. Baltimore has lost both meetings with Tampa Bay this season.
Manager Buck Showalter remains confident the Orioles will break out from these early doldrums.
“We think that every day, that today is going to be the beginning of something special,” Showalter said. “I talk about it all the time: It’s pretty consistent in there and it’s a real challenging time for personalities and staying together.
“And I’ve real proud of the guys, the way they’ve gone about it. There’s not a lot of change in work habits or want-to. They’re supportive of each other and so is the coaching staff.”
Jake Faria (3-1, 4.15 ERA) will get the start for the Rays and is looking to win his fourth consecutive decision. He is coming off one of his best starts of the season when he allowed one run in 5 1/3 innings against the Blue Jays on Saturday.
“When I do everything how I’m supposed to, when everything is going good, I know my stuff can play,” said Faria, who is 1-0 with a 4.78 ERA in five career appearances (four starts) against the Orioles. “That’s a big positive going into this year.”
Rays shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria was held out of the lineup with a left eye contusion Wednesday against the surging Braves, but should be back for the opener in Baltimore.
The Orioles hope Kevin Gausman (2-2, 3.30 ERA) can give them a lift. Gausman did not pick up a win his last outing despite throwing nine scoreless innings against the Athletics on Saturday. Baltimore lost 2-0 when Khris Davis hit two-run homer off reliever Pedro Araujo in the 12th inning.
Gausman wants to keep the momentum going against Tampa Bay. He is 5-5 with a 3.57 in 14 career appearances (12 starts) against the Rays.
“I’m really happy,” Gausman said. “Kind of all the time that I spent this offseason really trying to focus on my delivery and landing in the same spot every time has really paid off. That’s something that, next offseason, I’ll kind of really have to think about what I’m doing.
“But I feel good right now. I feel confident and comfortable with my mechanics and really right now I feel like I can throw any pitch in any count. It’s always good when you feel that way.”