Scuffling Rays just what the Orioles ordered

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays have dropped four of five games, including a 2-0 loss to the last-place Baltimore Orioles on Friday night, and traded away two key players to the Seattle Mariners before Friday’s game.

Tampa Bay (23-26) sent All-Star closer Alex Colome and outfielder Denard Span — who was tied for the team lead in RBIs — along with $4.75 million in cash, with only two minor-league pitchers in return.

“Hopefully we can move past that quickly and try to win a game tomorrow,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said after Friday’s loss, acknowledging that it’s “difficult” to lose players who were central in his clubhouse. “It does have an impact. You hope guys can bounce back, but you’re talking about guys you spent a lot of time with.”

Baltimore (17-34) opened the series with momentum, getting 6 2/3 innings of shutout baseball from David Hess, making just his third big-league start. They’ll hope to build on that Saturday with Andrew Cashner (2-5, 4.72 ERA), who is pitching for his fourth team in less than two years.

Cashner is coming off a rare win, giving up eight hits in five innings but holding the White Sox to two earned runs on Monday for just his second win of the season. He has a limited history against the Rays — a single appearance, last year when he was with Texas, getting the win and leaving with a 4.50 ERA.

The Rays, trying to push through major injuries to their starting rotation, will throw another bullpen day, with Ryne Stanek (0-0, 5.40 ERA) getting his first career start as Tampa Bay dabbles with relievers as short-inning starters.

Stanek has thrown as many as 40 pitches in games this season, but his last appearance was against a single batter. For his career against Baltimore, he has a 2.25 ERA in four appearances, all in relief. The Rays will lean hard on their bullpen, as they did in getting a solid seven innings from Ryan Yarbrough in Friday’s loss.

The Rays haven’t named a successor to Colome as closer — newly acquired reliever Wilmer Font will join the bullpen, though in a lower-leverage role. Carlos Gomez will come off the disabled list to displace Span, a Tampa native who was well-liked in his two months with his hometown team.

Baltimore got a key home run Friday night from Jonathan Schoop, who now has three home runs against the Rays, and two against everyone else in the league. Friday’s win was just their second shutout of the season — they did so against Detroit on April 27 — and the first time all year they’ve won when only scoring two runs.

The Orioles are 4-5 on their current 11-game road trip, and 4-3 on the season against the Rays, with the chance to continue that against patchwork bullpen pitching the rest of the weekend. Cashner has a tough act to follow — Hess’ gem on Friday was just the fourth time all season an Orioles pitcher lasted at least six innings while allowing no earned runs and four or fewer hits.