Rays-Orioles Preview

Two early series against the Baltimore Orioles are key to the

Tampa Bay Rays putting together the best start in franchise

history. It’s also one of the reasons the Orioles are off to their

worst start in 22 years.

The Rays look to beat Baltimore for a fifth time in six games

Wednesday afternoon.

Tampa Bay (5-3) has won four of five against the Orioles (1-7)

already this season, helping it to the best eight-game start in

team history.

The Rays erased a three-run deficit Tuesday night by scoring

five runs in the eighth before Carlos Pena connected for a

three-run homer in the 10th to secure an 8-6 victory. Tampa’s 16th

win in 23 games at Camden Yards also handed the Orioles their fifth

consecutive loss as they clinched their worst start since opening

1988 with a major league record 21 straight defeats.

“For us to score those five runs in the eighth was really a

testament to our focus and the way the group feels right now,”

manager Joe Maddon said. “I was really impressed with that.”

Now, the Rays are in position to sweep a three-game series from

the Orioles for the first time since winning all four games at

Baltimore from Sept. 22-24, 2008.

Tampa Bay will look for the sweep behind David Price (1-0, 3.52

ERA), who is 7-1 with a 3.40 ERA in 13 games – 12 starts – against

AL East foes. He’s 2-0 with a 3.12 ERA in three starts against

Baltimore, winning his only appearance at Camden Yards on Aug. 18

by allowing two runs and seven hits in five innings of a 5-4

victory.

Price was superb in his 2010 debut against the Yankees on

Friday, yielding three runs and seven hits with seven strikeouts

over a career-high 7 2-3 innings in a 9-3 win.

“It had to be the best I’ve ever seen him,” Maddon said. “I

haven’t seen him a lot as a starter, but he was really sharp.”

The Orioles’ bullpen is struggling mightily, going 0-3 with a

6.04 ERA while blowing three of four save chances on the season.

The unit’s 4.78 ERA ranked 28th in the majors last year.

Five relievers combined to allow four runs and five hits in 2

2-3 innings Tuesday.

“(Tuesday) was similar to what we’ve been seeing the last week,”

manager Dave Trembley said. “We’re not closing the games out from

the bullpen. We’re not getting outs when we need to get outs. We

wasted another good start.”

Trembley will turn to Brad Bergesen (0-0, 9.64) as he attempts

to rebound from a difficult season debut in order to re-establish

his home success.

The second-year right-hander labored through a 30-pitch first

inning before leaving with two outs in the fifth after surrendering

five runs and eight hits during a 7-6 loss to Toronto on

Friday.

Despite that outing, Bergesen is 7-1 with a 3.09 ERA in 12

starts at home. However, that lone defeat came against Tampa Bay on

May 13, when he allowed four runs and nine hits in 5 2-3 innings of

an 8-6 loss.

The Rays’ Jason Bartlett will try to extend his hitting streak

at Camden Yards to 19 games. The shortstop is batting .406 with two

homers and 19 runs in his last 18 games at Baltimore, and went 2

for 3 with a homer off Bergesen last May.