Could this series between the Orioles and Tampa Bay be low-scoring?
It certainly was the last time these teams played when there were three straight shutouts. Tampa Bay won the series opener 2-0 on Aug. 3 and then the O's posted 4-0 and 1-0 wins. Over three games, the Orioles outscored the Rays 5-2.
The Rays' pitching staff leads the majors in ERA (3.22) and opponent average (.230) and leads the American League in strikeouts (1,170). Only one pitching staff in the last 25 years has led the AL in all three categories: the 1999 Red Sox.
The Rays lead the majors with a 2.46 ERA since the All-Star break and Tampa Bay has allowed only 115 runs over its last 48 games beginning July 19, fewest over any 48-game stretch since the 1976 Dodgers (114) and fewest by an AL team since the 1972 Orioles (109).
Yes, that is outstanding pitching.
Matt Wieters said this is a series where the O's pitchers will need to hold their own.
"You know their starting pitching is what they live off over there," Wieters said. "Runs will be at a premium and you have to try and tack on as many as you can when you get those situations. Plus, you have to hold down a lineup that can run and bunt and will try to do different things to score."
After spending 2006-08 with Tampa Bay, O's pitcher Jason Hammel will face his former organization for the first time tonight. This is his second start since coming off the disabled list.
Hammel gave up six hits and one run over five-plus innings Thursday to the Yankees and, Wieters said, looked his his old self.
"His stuff was right there, right in line with where he was before," Wieters said. "On top of that, his command was good. After missing that much time and not making many rehab starts, for him to have that command was great. He also took a shot off the elbow and was able to pitch through it and show what a gutty competitor he is."
Tonight Matt Moore (10-9, 3.66 ERA) starts for the Rays. In 10 starts since the All-Star break, Moore is 5-3 and his ERA of 2.44 in that time is third-best in the AL.
Wieters is 4-for-7 in his career with two homers and three RBIs versus Moore.
"There is no secret, everyone on that staff has good stuff," Wieters said. "You just try to get that one pitch in middle of the plate that you can put a good swing on."