The Orioles have arrived in Tampa/St. Pete for their huge weekend series with the Tampa Bay Rays. Tonight, it’s the first of three games between the AL East rivals who are competing for one of three American League wild card playoff spots.
The Orioles (58-53) and Tampa Bay (58-52) are tied 8-8 in the season series and the winner of this series will win the season series and that is big for a potential future standings tiebreaker. The Orioles begin play tonight 2.5 games behind Toronto for the first wild card, two back of Seattle for the second and ½ game behind the Rays for the third.
The Orioles had an identical record as the Rays heading into last night’s games. And while Tampa Bay was off, the Birds lost 4-3 at Boston to fall back out of their standings tie. But a win tonight and they move ahead of the Rays.
Tampa Bay has won four of seven games but over longer stretches is 5-7 in 12 games and 13-12 in its last 25. The Rays are 7-11 in the second half and 27-31 since June 4. The Rays are 33-21 at home and 25-21 versus AL East teams.
In the first series of the year, the Orioles lost three straight at Tropicana Field by scores of 2-1, 5-3 and 8-0. At that point, the Orioles were 3-27 in the last 30 games against Tampa Bay. But they are 8-5 versus the Rays since then and beat them three out of four when the two teams played in Baltimore in late July. But the Orioles are 1-5 this road against the Rays on the road. The Orioles last won a series at the Trop since June 23-25, 2017.
The Rays offense has been slow since the All-Star break, as they have averaged 3.4 runs per game since then, scoring three runs or less in 12 of the past 17 games. The Rays are just 11-41 this year when scoring three or less while they are 47-11 when scoring four or more.
Right-hander Austin Voth (2-1, 5.53 ERA) will get the start tonight. In his 12 games with the Orioles, including eight starts, he is 2-1 with a 3.19 ERA over 36 2/3 innings. The Orioles are 6-2 in his games. Voth has allowed two earned runs or less in five of his eight Baltimore starts. He has an ERA of 2.77 over his past three starts. In three games against Tampa, he is 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA this season.
Right-hander Corey Kluber (7-6, 4.05 ERA) is set to make his 22nd start. The Rays are 12-9 in those games. Kluber has an ERA of 5.87 and OPS against of .809 his past four games. In 2022 starts against Baltimore, he is 1-2 with a 4.38 ERA and 1.460 WHIP.
Hall gets the call: Orioles manager Brandon Hyde confirmed that lefty pitching prospect DL Hall has joined the Orioles for this series but he is not yet officially activated and Hyde did not confirm or note yet if Hall will start Saturday’s game.
While Hall’s Triple-A numbers are not great at 2-6 with a 4.76 ERA, in his most recent game last Sunday he allowed two runs and five hits over 5 1/3 innings with three walks and eight strikeouts. For the year with Norfolk, he has a 5.7 walks per nine ad 14.7 strikeout rate in 70 innings.
In a recent four-start stretch from July 1-17, he allowed one earned run and eight hits over 20 2/3 with eight walks to 40 strikeouts. He has electric stuff but shaky control and command.
But the Orioles showed how important this series is to them with this call in my opinion. Hall, currently ranked No. 59 in the Baseball Amercica top 100 and No. 62 via MLBPipeline.com, is ready for this moment in my opinion. He will embrace the challenge of a big game.
I have seen the kid light it up on the mound when he has his good command. He can dominate. And his stuff is so good that he can still pitch well and win even with shaky command. Big strikeout numbers are always possible for pitching that can hit 100 with plus secondary stuff. Hall’s call is exciting for Birdland.
This series is big and this should be fun. Hope you are ready Birdland.