Preview: Rays look to grab advantage in series against Orioles

TV: FOX Sports Sun

Time: Pregame coverage begins at 6:30 p.m.


BALTIMORE — Tampa Bay right-hander Jake Odorizzi has pitched better recently, and he will try to keep the Rays’ faint playoff hopes alive on Saturday when his team takes on the Baltimore Orioles in the third game of a weekend series.

Odorizzi (9-8, 4.46 ERA) struggled throughout most of the season until seeming to find his way more in the last four starts. He has gone 3-1 in them and took a no-hitter into the sixth inning against Boston.

He gave up two runs and one hit in six innings, the second time in three starts the right-hander had a no-hitter through at least five innings.

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Odorizzi has a 4-4 career record with a 5.27 ERA against the Orioles.

Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said the recent turnaround for Odorizzi has impressed him.

“The first half was a struggle for him, the grind with some injuries coming back, not finding his rhythm,” Cash said. “I do think his last couple starts we’ve seen the more typical Jake Odorizzi where he goes out and pitches with a little bit more conviction.”

He will go against former Tampa Bay pitcher Jeremy Hellickson (8-10, 5.47 ERA). The right-hander started off well when the Orioles got him win a trade with the Philadelphia Phillies in July but has stumbled since.

Hellickson is 2-5 with a 7.29 ERA in nine Baltimore starts. That includes 12 homers in just 45 2/3 innings, and this will be his first start or appearance against his former team.

The teams have split the first two games of the series, with Tampa Bay (75-79) posting an 8-3 victory over Baltimore (74-81) on Friday.

For the Orioles, it’s looking like closer Zach Britton won’t be back on the mound season. He received a stem cell injection in his ailing left knee on Friday, something manager Buck Showalter described as a painful procedure.

Showalter said the team’s going to wait a few days before deciding where to go from here.

“We’re going to proceed like (where we are) in three to five days just like we said,” Showalter said. “When he gets to the point where he says ‘OK, I think I can do it,’ then we’re going to weigh in the risks/rewards.”

Showalter also said it looks like Dylan Bundy will start Sunday. The Orioles hadn’t officially named a starter as of Friday, but the skipper said before the game that if everything stayed right, Bundy would get the call.

Jonathan Schoop was voted by the local media as the Most Valuable Oriole. Schoop is having a breakout season, made the All-Star team and has turned into one of baseball’s top defensive second basemen.

“He deserved it,” Showalter said. “He’s always had durability, but the consistency, he’s really (taken) his game to another level. I think he’s grown into a real consistent guy you can count on.”