Andy MacPhail wasn’t wrong in saying the Orioles should use the Rays as their role model.
A lot of people were ready to throw dirt on Tampa Bay when they started 1-8, but the Rays quickly found their way back to first place and that’s where they reside right now with a 23-16 record.
Others have much larger payrolls and boast more star power. Tampa Bay just keeps winning and playing sound, fundamental baseball under a great leader in manager Joe Maddon.
Tampa Bay proved to the Orioles that you can knock off the American League East big boys and don’t need to spend with them to do that.
The Rays have have won 97, 84 and 96 games the past three years. They went from a last-place team with 66 wins in 2007 to a division champ with 31 more wins the very next year and they’ve been good ever since.
They built through the draft, developed some real good young pitching and made some shrewd trades and key acquisitions. They have a manager that convinced his players and the fans that they could win. They are indeed a great role model for the Orioles as Buck Showalter tries to do for this team what Maddon has done for his Rays.
Tampa Bay became the quickest team to start a year 0-6 and get to first place. By May 7, they’d made it to the top of baseball’s toughest division.
The Rays have won eight of their last nine series coming into today’s series finale with the Orioles and are 10-6 against the AL East. They are 6-3 in one-run games and 17-1 when they have more hits than their opponent.
Tampa has done an amazing job to rebuild a bullpen that lost Rafael Soriano, Joaquin Benoit and Dan Wheeler. Today, that new-look pen has the best ERA in the league at 2.93 and Tampa Bay’s overall ERA of 3.23 ranks second best in the AL.
The Orioles have held their own well against Tampa Bay this year and the season series is tied at four wins each to date.
O’s hitters, this year against Tampa Bay:
Fox: 2-for-4, HR, two RBIs
Guerrero: 7-for-27, one RBI
Hardy: 3-for-15, two doubles, two RBIs
Jones: 6-for-30, one RBI
Lee: 6-for-32, two homers, three RBIs
Markakis: 8-for-29, four RBIs, no extra-base hits
Reynolds: 5-for-24, one HR, three RBIs and nine strikeouts
Roberts: 6-for-32, one HR, 5 RBIs
Scott: 2-for-24 with eight strikeouts
Wieters: 6-for-22, three RBIs
Today’s pitching matchup features Jake Arrieta (4-1, 4.17) vs. Andy Sonnanstine (0-0, 2.19). Arrieta is 3-0 with an ERA of 2.70 over his last five starts and is 2-0, 3.50 this year in three road starts. He has recorded a quality start in six of eight games this season.