The Tampa Bay Rays were struggling on the road heading into
their series with the Baltimore Orioles, but they seem rather
comfortable at Camden Yards.
Tampa Bay looks to complete a three-game sweep of the Orioles by
winning for the seventh time in eight games Wednesday night.
The Rays had dropped five straight contests away from home –
their longest road skid since 2009 – before winning Monday’s series
opener 4-3 behind a two-run homer from Matt Joyce and a solo shot
from Evan Longoria.
Joyce, who had five RBIs in his previous 28 games combined, then
drove in three runs as Wil Myers added a pair of RBIs in Tuesday’s
7-4 victory to help Tampa Bay (72-52) win for the fifth straight
time in Baltimore.
The Rays, who lead the AL wild-card race and are tied with
Boston for the East lead, have won six of seven overall following a
six-game losing streak.
“It’s very big for where we’re at in the division and the fact
we’re chasing the Red Sox a little bit and also trying to create
some distance, because we know the O’s and the Yankees are very
capable and very tough competitors,” said Ben Zobrist, who had two
hits and an RBI. “We don’t anticipate it being any sort of easy
road to the end of September. This is two great wins for us to
Baltimore (67-58), meanwhile, has lost six of eight and sits 5
1/2 games behind Tampa, which has won seven of the last eight
meetings overall. Matt Wieters hit a two-run homer in the ninth
Tuesday to pull the Orioles closer, but they couldn’t overcome the
Rays’ four-run top half of the inning.
Wieters is 16 for 48 with five of his 19 homers and 14 RBIs in
the season series. He’s a career .337 hitter with 15 home runs in
69 games against Tampa Bay.
Teammate Chris Davis singled, walked and was hit by a pitch, but
he’s just 2 for 22 (.091) in his last six versus the Rays. He hit
.483 with four homers, four doubles and 15 RBIs in the first eight
meetings this season.
Baltimore will look to get back on track with help from Wei-Yin
Chen, who has been solid recently against the Rays.
Chen (6-6, 3.23 ERA), though, has lost three straight starts
while posting a 4.66 ERA after allowing four runs in 6 1-3 innings
of Friday’s 6-3 loss to Colorado. He gave up at least three runs
for the fifth consecutive outing despite striking out seven and
retiring 12 of the first 13 hitters he faced.
“I feel bad because it’s my fault,” Chen said. “I couldn’t keep
the guys in the ballgame. But tomorrow is another day.”
The left-hander is 1-1 with a 1.69 ERA over the last four times
he’s faced the Rays, though. Chen allowed two runs in 5 2-3 innings
before Tampa Bay rallied for an 8-7 win April 3. He opposed Jeremy
Hellickson in that contest and will do so again Wednesday.
Hellickson (10-6, 4.91) gave up five runs and eight hits in six
innings versus the Orioles in April before allowing a career
worst-tying eight runs in 7 2-3 innings of a 12-10 win May 17.
The right-hander’s last outing against Baltimore went much
better, as he gave up four hits in six innings of an 8-0 victory
June 8. Hellickson, though, is 0-3 with an 8.00 ERA over his last
four starts after giving up three runs in six innings of Tampa
Bay’s 5-4 win over Toronto on Friday.
Hellickson is 8-3 with a 3.09 ERA in 14 career starts versus the
Orioles, who have lost five of seven at home.