The Orioles beat Tampa Bay 4-3 in 10 innings Thursday night and were held to just two hits in a 3-0 loss last night. So the O’s and Rays are right back where they were and separated by just percentage points when this series started.
They are tied for first atop the American League East with the Orioles at 59-38 (.608) and Tampa Bay at 61-40 (.604) and two games to go this series.
Friday’s loss snapped the Orioles’ six-game road win streak, their longest away from Oriole Park since an eight-game streak from July 25 to Aug. 13, 2020.
With Thursday's win, the Orioles have now gone 71 consecutive series without being swept. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that is the most consecutive series of at least two decisions (no ties) without getting swept in Orioles history, ahead of 46 consecutive sweepless series from 1971-72. It is the ninth-longest such streak in MLB history, trailing the 1942-44 St. Louis Cardinals (124), 1906-09 Chicago Cubs (115), 1903-05 New York Giants (105), 1922-24 New York Yankees (83), 1904-1906 Philadelphia Athletics (74), and 1921-23 St. Louis Browns, 1997-99 San Diego Padres, and 2003-05 Atlanta Braves (72).
The Orioles have won 10 of their past 13 games and have scored 79 runs in those games.
But they went 2-for-29 at-bat on Friday, producing only a Ryan Mountcastle double in the second inning and a Ryan O’Hearn single in the fourth. But O’s batters fanned 14 times, just two fewer than their 16 strikeouts in the entire three-game series versus the Dodgers. Of the 14 strikeouts, 10 came with a looking third strike. The last eight outs the Orioles made in the game were recorded via a strikeout.
The Orioles were shutout for the seventh time and first time since July 1 by Minnesota. Baltimore batters are 8-for-62 this series with just two extra-base hits, a double and triple, and four runs scored.
O’s pitchers have allowed three runs twice in this series and have given up three runs or less eight times the past 13 games.
The Orioles have seen Tampa Bay score first twice in this series, each time taking a 1-0 lead in the second inning. While the Orioles have the best win percentage in MLB this year when scoring first, playing .784 ball (29-8) in such games, their 37 times scoring first is the fewest in the majors. The Orioles are on pace to finish with their best record when scoring first since going 61-16 (.792) in 2014, according to Stats. The Orioles are 30-30 when their opponents score first.
Tampa Bay ended a five-game losing streak with Friday’s win, which was just the fourth Rays win over the last 16 games. Tampa Bay is now 36-16 in home games.
Since June 10, the Rays are 14-21 and in that span they have won just two of 10 series, going 2-5-3.
The Orioles starting pitchers have produced two quality starts this series. Last night right-hander Kyle Bradish allowed two runs over six innings, throwing 93 pitches. Bradish has an ERA of 1.62 over his past seven outings, all quality starts. O’s starting pitchers have 38 quality starts on the year, going 29-9 in those games.
Right-hander Grayson Rodriguez (2-2, 7.33 ERA) gets the start for Baltimore today making his 12th start. Despite his previous struggles, especially in May when his ERA was 11.14, the Orioles are 7-4 in his starts this year.
Rodriguez allowed four runs and seven hits in five plus innings on Monday night facing the Los Angeles Dodgers when two runs scored after he had left the game. In an earlier start versus Tampa Bay, Rodriguez gave up seven hits and two runs in a career-high 5 2/3 ininngs on May 9. He got the win that game, throwing a career-high 101 pitches. In two starts this year against AL East teams, he is 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA.
The O’s face a tough challenge today, facing lefty Shane McLanahan (11-1, 2.56 ERA). He is tied for the MLB lead with five others in wins and leads MLB in ERA. A 2023 All-Star, McLanahan has thrown 102 innings pitching to a WHIP of 1.127 with a 3.4 walk rate and 9.4 strikeout rate. The Rays are 14-4 in his starts this season. He is making his second start in July after a 17-day stay on the injured list.
The Baltimore native finished sixth for the 2022 AL Cy Young Award, going 12-8 with a 2.54 ERA over 28 starts.
On May 8 at Oriole Park, he pitched six scoreless innings on four hits, throwing a season-high 102 pitches. In eight career starts against the Orioles, he is 6-0 with a 2.14 ERA and 1.122 WHIP.
Since making his first career appearance against the Orioles on July 20, 2021, no pitcher in the majors has more wins than McClanahan against Baltimore during that time. Among all active pitchers, McClanahan’s 2.14 ERA vs. Baltmore is second lowest (min. 45.0IP) behind the Yankees Nestor Cortes at 1.99.