Streaking Rays focs on what they can control

The red-hot Tampa Bay Rays turn to their second straight “opener” when they go for the sweep of their three-game series with the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday at The Trop.

Diego Castillo was the reliever starting Saturday’s game as Ryan Yarbrough winning his 14th game of the season in relief. Sunday, it will be Ryne Stanek, who faced one batter in relief Saturday and Yonny Chirinos is set up to work the long “relief” stint.

Whatever manager Kevin Cash does these days seems to be working.

The Rays are 13 games over .500 for the first time in five years. They have won six of their last seven and 15 of their last 18 overall, have won 10 straight at home and are keeping their long shot wild card hopes alive.

“We’re enjoying coming to the field each and every day,” a sizzling Kevin Kiermaier, who had two more hits Saturday, told Rays radio after the 10-5 victory that sent the Orioles to their 101st loss of this dreadful season. “We know that we’re on the outside looking in right now but if we just coming to the field each and every day and playing the way we have been of late, we can make things really interesting if other teams scuffle down the road.

“All we can control is us and what we do every day and that’s what we’re focused on right now – and that’s why the results have been so good as of late.”

The Rays have outscored the Orioles 24-7 and struck out 25 Baltimore hitters in the first two games of the series.

The Rays (77-64) were supposed to have faced former teammate Alex Cobb, who has come on following a 2-14 start (after signing late). But the veteran right-hander has a blister, pushing him back until Tuesday. Instead, left-hander Josh Rogers (1-1, 4.35 ERA), one of three young pitchers acquired from the New York Yankees in the Zach Britton deal, will make his third major league start.

Rogers has worked 10 1/3 innings in two starts and has his first big league win under his belt. There had been talk he would be shut down having reached 150 innings for the season, but he will work Sunday.

The Orioles, who had been 8-8 against the Rays heading into this series, are steaming toward the club record of 107 losses and sit at 41-101 with 20 games remaining.

David Hess, who was hit in the eye with a football prior to Friday night’s game and was seen in the dugout wearing an LSU football helmet after returning from the doctor, worked five innings and took the loss Saturday. He allowed seven hits and six runs — two earned — in falling to 3-10 (two of his wins are against Tampa Bay).

A nightmarish first inning in the field – four unearned runs – put the Orioles in the hole Saturday and they never made it back.

“I like the way he finished,” manager Buck Showalter told MASN’s post-game show. “We didn’t help him very much. I counted four or five errors – only one on the board – it took him a while to find his step and gain his confidence but I like the way he finished.

“He dug himself a pretty good hole but didn’t sit around feeling sorry for himself.”

Showalter added, “You can always take something from it but you just gotta not make the same mistakes. It’s a problem that a lot of our guys are having – it’s command of the fastball in the strike zone. You’re trying to go in you leak it out over the middle of the plate, you try and go away and you jerk it middle in. You pay for those things – but we didn’t help him either.”