Tampa Bay Rays at Baltimore Orioles series primer

BY foxsports • May 1, 2015

The sight will be surreal, if not downright strange.

Tropicana Field will host a three-game series ... but the Tampa Bay Rays will be the visiting team. The environment will be familiar ... but it will be so much different all the same. The Rays will be in their cozy confines ... but little is comforting about the reason why this experience will happen at all.

The Baltimore Orioles will serve as the "home team" the next three days, after they played a game against the Chicago White Sox before no fans Wednesday at Camden Yards, after riots spread throughout Charm City in a period of unrest. For many there, normalcy remains elusive.

Baseball should be a secondary concern at this time for peace-loving people in Baltimore. Still, it's wise that this series will take place away from Camden Yards. It's smart that safety was given precedence over fun and games.

But here's hoping the buzz of a pregame crowd returns to Birdland soon. Here's hoping foot traffic fills Eutaw Street once more. Here's hoping a roar from the stands becomes part of a city's heartbeat again sooner rather than later.

Baseball, after all, has its place.

Here's a look at the upcoming Rays-Orioles series ...

SCHEDULE AND PROBABLE PITCHERS

WHO'S HOT

Evan Longoria (Rays): He hit .458 (11 for 24) with two RBI in six games from April 24-29. He had three multi-hit contests in the span, including a 4-for-4 day in a victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on April 25. He has hit .293 with one home run and four RBI this season.

Jimmy Paredes (Orioles): He hit .421 (8 for 19) with two home runs and seven RBI in four games from April 24-29. He had two multi-hit contests in the span, including a 4-for-5 day in a victory over the Boston Red Sox on April 25. He has hit .385 with three home runs and nine RBI this season.

WHO'S NOT

Steven Souza Jr. (Rays): He hit .150 (3 for 20) with seven strikeouts in five games from April 24-29. He went hitless in two contests in the span. He has hit .237 with four home runs and 11 RBI this season.

Alejandro De Aza (Orioles): He hit .200 (2 for 10) with one strikeout in three games from April 24-29. He was held hitless in one contest in the span. He has hit .233 with two home runs and four RBI this season.

STORYLINES

5: Consecutive games won by the Rays at Tropicana Field. This series will be considered part of their nine-game road trip that began against the New York Yankees and will finish against the Red Sox.

6-2: Rays' record in their past eight games, a run that includes a five-game winning streak from April 22-26. They have played all American League East competition in the stretch, and their next series outside the division won't happen until hosting the Texas Rangers from May 7-10.

12-9: Combined score of the three games between the Rays and Orioles the last time the teams met, from April 6-8 at Tropicana Field to open the season. Baltimore won two of the games.

QUOTE BOARD

"I thought Odo threw the ball pretty well. That first inning we didn't help him out that much. We had some opportunities, didn't capitalize on them." -- Manager Kevin Cash to reporters, after the Rays' 4-2 loss to the Yankees on Tuesday at Yankee Stadium. Right-hander Jake Odorizzi allowed a season-high four runs and nine hits in 6 1/3 innings.

"The guys play hard. They play hard for nine, they play hard for 13, 14 -- whatever is asked of them. They've done that for a month, and it's been impressive to watch." -- Cash to reporters, after the Rays' 3-2 victory in 13 innings over the Yankees on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium. The result allowed Tampa Bay to close April with a 12-10 record.

"It's a tragic time in Baltimore, no time for us to be going in there." -- Archer to USA TODAY, when speaking about the development that the Rays' upcoming three-game series will be moved to Tropicana Field. Riots broke out after Freddie Gray's funeral Monday.

LOOKING AHEAD

May 4-6 -- Rays at Red Sox

You can follow Andrew Astleford on Twitter @aastleford or email him at aastleford@gmail.com.


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