Now that the Tampa Bay Rays have been officially eliminated, will they be easier for the Orioles to beat? Don't count on it, and I would imagine no one in the O's clubhouse is, either.
Just the fact the Rays are pitching James Shields and Jeremy Hellickson the next two nights makes them tough to beat.
Don't you think that it is somewhat ironic that last year the Rays were praising the Orioles for how hard and well they played late in the year against Boston, and now the Rays could keep the O's from winning the East.
Along those lines, Tampa manager Joe Maddon posted this earlier today on his Twitter account:
"We're going to go hard to win these 2 games just the way Buck and the Orioles did it last year. I know he wouldn't want it any other way."
The Rays may be a little down after Oakland's win late last night eliminated them, but I would not expect them to be any pushover. They may even play looser and better, but you just can't predict how this will go.
Shields is 15-9 with a 3.62 ERA. In his last four starts, he is 2-1 with a 1.88 ERA. In 10 starts since Aug. 1, he is 6-2 with a 2.36 ERA. Yes, the Orioles will have to beat a pitcher throwing well tonight, one called "Big Game" James.
The Orioles have fared well against the right-hander this year. He is 1-1 with an ERA of 6.57 in two starts versus Baltimore.
The Orioles lead the season series over Tampa Bay, nine wins to seven, one more win would give them the season series victory over the Rays for the first time since 2007. The Rays have a losing record against the Birds, but are 33-21 against the rest of the American League East.
The Orioles' streak of holding Tampa to two runs or less for seven consecutive games ended last night, but the O's are still 6-2 over the last eight versus Tampa, holding the Rays to 15 runs.
Tampa is now 11-1 in its last 12 games. outscoring its opposition 80-31 in those games and out-homering them 24-5.
The Rays have been tough for everyone to beat the last two weeks and no doubt they will be tough for the O's to beat the next two nights, no matter whether they are eliminated or not.
What say you, O's fans? Will Tampa be easier to beat tonight? Did last night's results change anything?