Series preview: Rays at Orioles

Game Preview
Tampa Bay (72-71) at Orioles (58-84)

With three weeks to go in Major League baseball's regular season, tonight the Orioles host Tampa Bay at 7:05 p.m. It's the start of a seven-game homestand, the O's next to last homestand of the year.

The O's host Tampa for four games and Boston for three over the next seven days.

Tonight, David Hernandez (4-7, 5.05) pitches for the O's vs. the Rays David Price (7-7, 4.65).

The Orioles took two of three from New York over the weekend. The Yankees scored eight runs in the 8th inning Sunday to win 13-3 and avoid the sweep.

The O's pitchers held New York to seven runs on 19 hits in winning the first two games of the series, before the Yankees pounded out 13 runs on 20 hits on Sunday.

The O's bullpen has struggled recently, working to an ERA of 9.37 on the five-game trip to Boston and New York and to an ERA of 8.23 over the last 15 games.

The O's are 18-37 on the year vs. AL East opponents and are 12-14 at home vs. division foes.

The O's will start a rookie pitcher tonight for the 86th time in 143 games on the year. They are 33-52 when a rookie hurler takes the mound.

Among the O's hottest hitters right now is outfielder Nolan Reimold. He is 6 for 15 over the past four games, and, over his last ten games, is batting .378-3-6 with 14 hits in 37 at bats.

Tampa Bay, which won the AL East and the American League championships last season, is now just about out of any playoff contention for this year.

The Rays have now lost 11 straight, the longest losing streak in the Majors this season. The streak has been marked by a lack of offense.

In losing a doubleheader vs. Boston on Sunday by scores of 3-1 and 4-0, Tampa produced just one run and ten hits in two games.

The Rays, who are 5th in the Majors in runs scored, have scored just eight total runs over their last seven games and have scored just 23 runs during the 11 consecutive losses.

Seven of those 11 losses have come in the 8th inning or later.

Tampa is 12-22 since August 7th when it was just 2 ½ games out in the wild-card race. Now the Rays are 12 ½ games behind wild-card leading Boston.

Tampa Bay is 1-12 in September and 24-30 in the second half.

The Orioles, who went just 3-15 vs. the Rays in 2008, are 5-5 this year vs. Tampa, including a mark of 3-2 at home. The clubs will meet eight more times.

The Orioles lead the all-time series, 101-95.

O's hitters, 2009 vs. Tampa:
Andino: 1-7/0/0
Aubrey: 2-6/0/0
Fiorentino: 0-0
Izturis: 8-30/0/2
Markakis: 13-42/1/5
Moeller: 1-11/0/0
Mora: 7-34/1/9
Pie: 4-17/1/2
Reimold: 4-13/1/4
Roberts: 14-40/5/12 with 12 runs
Scott: 5-24/0/1
Wieters: 3-8/1/2
Wigginton: 9-27/1/2

Over the ten games this year, Tampa has scored 53 runs to the O's 51. The Orioles team average is .278 in the season series and their team ERA is 4.86.

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