This stat snuck up on me, but the Orioles are 9-2 over their last 11 home games. They are 4-2 on the current nine-game homestand which continues this weekend against Tampa Bay. The Orioles are 19-16 at home on the season.
The O's are coming off a three-game sweep of Oakland where the pitching led the way. The Orioles' staff allowed just three earned runs, five walks and 17 hits in that series. The O's bullpen has now pitched to an ERA of 0.55 over the last 10 games and the 'pen pitched 10 1/3 scoreless innings against the A's.
Mark Reynolds, who has taken the team lead with 10 homers, has hit three in his last five games and seven over his past 23 games.
Tampa Bay comes to town at 33-29 and is coming off its first three game sweep in 21 series at Angels Stadium. They beat the Angels by scores of 5-1, 4-1 and 4-3 in 10 innings. While Tampa has won four of its last five, the Rays are just 10-14 since May 13, when they were a season-high eight games over .500 at 23-15.
Tampa Bay has one of baseball's best road records at 19-13, but is just 5-8 over its last 13 away from home.
The Rays are 12-9 against American League East foes,11-5 in one-run games and a very impressive 22-8 versus teams with sub-.500 records.
Here is a stat that will make the Orioles jealous: Tampa Bay starting pitchers have worked seven innings or more 31 times, among the most in the majors.
Johnny Damon comes to town having reached base in 34 straight games, three off a Tampa Bay record and the longest current streak in baseball. Damon, hitting .306 during that time, did not have a hit Wednesday, but extended his streak with a walk.
Here's a rarity and say it quietly: Damon has not hit well on the season against the Orioles. He is batting .147 at 5-for-34.
This will be the fourth series between these teams in 2011. The O's swept Tampa Bay to start the year and got swept in early May. In mid-May, the O's took two of three in St. Petersburg, Fla., winning the last two by scores of 6-0 and 9-3 after getting shut out in the series opener.
So the Orioles are 5-4 on the year against Tampa Bay after going just 18-36 versus the Rays over the previous three seasons.
The O's have outscored Tampa Bay 34-28 in a season series marked by more pitching than offense. The O's team average is .228 and the Rays' team mark is .224 against Baltimore.
Tonight, Jake Arrieta (7-3, 4.93 ERA) pitches against Jeremy Hellickson (7-3, 2.64 ERA). Hellickson has not allowed a run over 14 innings on the year against the O's and he is 6-1 with an ERA of 1.74 over his last seven starts.