Tampa Bay got bopped 9-2 in Baltimore last night, and they will try to solve the Orioles’ puzzle again this evening. The game will be televised not only on Sun Sports, but also on ESPN2. Which sort of tells you the importance of the matchup. The Rays fell four games behind Oakland for the top wild card playoff slot, and are two games behind the Yankees and Baltimore in the A.L. East, as well as in the playoff hunt. The Angels are only a half-game behind the Rays in the playoff standings.
Last night, Matt Moore couldn’t get past the fourth inning, allowing a pair of earned runs while throwing 94 pitches. The bats could muster only five hits in thirty-two at bats. In the meantime, the Orioles got offensive, banging out thirteen hits to plate their nine runs.
Tonight, the Rays will try to tie the series, sending Alex Cobb (9-8, 4.28) to the hill against Miguel Gonzalez (6-4, 3.62). Cobb is 5-3 in his last ten outings, with an ERA of 3.65 over that stretch.
- The Orioles have scored fewer runs than they have given up, but have also won twenty-five of thirty-two one-run games. They might remind folks of the 2008 version of the team they’re playing this evening.
- Tampa Bay has been shut out nine times this season, with six of those coming in August. But you can’t count them out. Their pitching keeps them in most games, and they can score runs in bunches. I’ve said it before: if they make it to the post-season, no one wants to face them. While they have lost their share of low-scoring games, they have also won quite a few. Their staff has twirled fourteen shutouts this year.
- This is the time of the season that a manager earns his keep. Joe Maddon knows how to keep his club focused without becoming tight. They’ve made it interesting in the past (see game #162 last year) and know how to close. And Maddon has a lot to do with that. Don’t give up on the Rays!