O's game blog: The series finale against the Tampa Bay Rays

They have exchanged blowout wins and today the Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays play the third and deciding game of their three-game series at Tropicana Field.

The Orioles (59-54) and Rays (59-53) have split 18 games with nine wins each. Today’s winner takes the season series, which could be critical later. Head-to-head results are the first tiebreaker for any standings ties that could impact the playoffs.

The Orioles routed the Rays 10-3 on Friday night behind a season-best 19 hits on a night they went 7-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Adley Rutschman and Cedric Mullins hit solo homers for Baltimore. And the bottom third of the O’s order – Rougned Odor, Ramón Urías and Jorge Mateo – went a combined 10-for-13 with two doubles, four runs and six RBIs.

Mateo set a career high with five hits, going 5-for-5 with two doubles, two runs scored and two RBIs. The team's 19 hits were the most in a game by the O's since June 6, 2021 versus Cleveland (they had 21), the most against the Rays since May 13, 2018 (they had 19), and the most by the Orioles at Tropicana Field since Aug. 10, 1999 (with 20).

Yesterday, Tampa Bay had 11 hits in an 8-2 win over the Orioles. A three-run last of the third versus O's lefty DL Hall gave them a 4-2 lead, and they added some late runs for the final margin. In his big league debut, before being optioned back to the minors, Hall allowed five runs and five hits over 3 2/3 innings on 76 pitches.

Right-hander Jordan Lyles (9-8, 4.35 ERA) is on the mound for the Orioles in the series finale. Lyles has been pitching well lately, allowing two runs in 5 2/3 innings earlier this week against Toronto. In his past three starts, Lyles has a 1.53 ERA over 17 2/3 innings. And he has allowed two earned runs or fewer six times in his last eight games. In that span, he is 5-1 with a 3.22 ERA, yielding a .270 batting average and .744 OPS against.

For the season, Lyles has allowed two or fewer earned runs in 12 of his 23 starts and has recorded nine quality starts. The Orioles are 11-12 in his games.

Lyles has thrown seven innings or more four times this season and the Orioles have just six outings that long this season. Lefty batters hit .278 off him with an OPS of .873. Right-handed batters hit .280/.726.

In three games this season versus the Rays, Lyles is 1-2 with a 7.43 ERA. He has given up 11 earned runs in 13 1/3 innings.

Righty Drew Rasmussen (6-4, 2.96 ERA), another pitcher on a roll, will make the start for Tampa Bay, his 20th of the year. The 27-year-old Rasmussen has thrown 91 1/3 innings, allowing 82 hits and eight home runs. He's recorded 25 walks and 75 strikeouts. He has a 1.172 WHIP with a 2.5 walk rate and 7.4 strikeout rate.

The Rays are 13-6 in his 19 starts and 4-1 over his last five, and one of those four wins came versus the Orioles. His last two games he has allowed just one earned run over nine innings against Toronto and Detroit.

Over his past seven starts, he has pitched to an ERA of 2.16, allowing just one homer in 33 1/3 innings, with nine walks to 26 strikeouts. In eight home starts he is 3-1 with a 2.01 ERA and 0.896 WHIP.

Rasmussen has started twice this season against the Orioles, going 0-0 with a 4.15 ERA and 1.269 WHIP.

O's catcher Adley Rutschman is batting .318/.483/.485 (21-for-66) with eight doubles, one homer, 17 runs scored, five RBIs, 20 walks, and two hit-by-pitches in 20 games since the All-Star Break. His 20 walks are tied for the second-most in the major leagues, his .483 on-base percentage ranks second in the bigs and his eight doubles are tied for third-most in the American League since the break.

Rutschman's 23 doubles in his first 66 career games are the most in O's history and the most by a primary catcher in his first 66 career games since at least 1900, per the Elias Sports Bureau.

A win tonight would give the Orioles their first series win in Tampa/St. Petersburg since June 23-25, 2017.


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