Opposite dugout: Third place, .500 mark are Rays’ late goals

rays-logo.jpgManager: Kevin Cash (2nd year)

Record: 74-78

Last 10 games: 4-6

Who to watch: LF Corey Dickerson (.277 with 26 HR, 60 RBIs), 3B Evan Longoria (18 HR, 83 RBIs), 1B Logan Morrison (36 HR, 82 RBIs), RF Steven Souza Jr. (30 HR, 78 RBIs), RHP Alex Cobb (11-10, 3.63 ERA), RHP Chris Archer (9-11, 4.02 ERA), RHP Alex Colomé (45 saves)

Season series vs. Orioles: 6-6

Pitching probables:

Sept. 21: RHP Matt Andriese vs. RHP Gabriel Ynoa, 7:05 p.m., MASN
Sept. 22: RHP Alex Cobb vs. RHP: Ubaldo Jiménez, 7:05 p.m., MASN2
Sept. 23: RHP Jake Odorizzi vs. RHP Jeremy Hellickson, 7:05 p.m., MASN2
Sept. 24: RHP Chris Archer vs. TBA, 1:35 p.m., MASN2

Inside the Rays:

Though not eliminated from the American League wild card race, the Rays’ chances are no better than the Orioles’, meaning the teams are really battling more for third place in the AL East than a chance at the postseason. Given that, and the fact that both clubs could be spotting unproven players into their lineups for their penultimate meeting of the season, it’s a little hard to know what to expect. Both teams desperately want to finish above .500 and both want to take some momentum into the offseason, but both need to get a handle on how some young players in their systems might perform in the future. The Rays and Orioles haven’t met since late July, and will play two series totaling seven games before the 2017 season ends next weekend at The Trop.

There’s no surprise as to why the Rays have struggled this season: Their offense hasn’t carried its share of the weight. There haven’t been enough runners on for third baseman Evan Longoria, left fielder Corey Dickerson, right fielder Steven Souza Jr. and first baseman Logan Morrison - the team’s top power sources - to push more guys across the plate. Morrison leads the Rays with career highs of 36 homers and 82 RBIs, and Souza has chipped in 30 longballs, but Longoria’s 18 homers are below his usual output and Dickerson has driven in only 60 runs with 26 longballs. Of late, catcher Wilson Ramos has been rounding into shape after missing the first half of the season with a knee injury suffered last September. This month, Ramos is hitting .256 with three homers . Center fielder Kevin Kiermaier has a career-high 14 homers and is hitting .311 since returning from a right hip fracture on Aug. 18 and playing his usual stellar defense.

Righty Matt Andriese starts Thursday night’s series opener and will be seeking his first victory since May 25, when he finished off four straight wins. His starts have been limited because he’s battled hip and groin problems. Andriese has made three September starts, allowing 13 earned runs in 11 innings and going 0-2. Friday starter Alex Cobb will be gunning for his 12th victory, which would establish a new career high. In six starts since the beginning of August, the righty has not yielded more than three earned runs in an appearance. Cobb is 5-2 with a 2.54 ERA in 11 career starts against the Orioles, but only 2-1 with a 4.65 in six starts at Camden Yards. Right-hander Jake Odorizzi has won three of his last four starts, but has allowed four homers over his last five outings and 30 on the season. He’s never had much success against the Orioles, going 4-4 with a 5.27 ERA in 16 games (15 starts). Sunday starter Chris Archer has dropped his last four decisions and has won only one game in his past nine starts. Camden Yards hasn’t been kind to the right-hander. Archer is 1-4 with a 6.06 ERA in six games (five starts) in his career at Baltimore.

There are few closers better than Tampa Bay’s closer, Alex Colomé, whose 45 saves lead the majors. He converted 15 straight save opportunities before blowing one Sept. 15 against the Red Sox.

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