Opposite dugout: Rays' bats show improvement as team emerges from rough patch

rays-logo.jpgManager: Joe Maddon, ninth year Record: 32-48 Last 10 games: 5-5 Who to watch: 3B Evan Longoria (.264/.330/.405, 10 HR, 37 RBIs); 1B James Loney (.289/.344/.381, 21 XBH, 38 RBIs); RF Kevin Kiermaier (.300/.354/.567, 8 doubles, 4 HR, 9 RBIs); RHP Alex Cobb (2-6, 4.10 ERA, 1.21 WHIP) Season series vs. O's: 1-7, 18 runs scored, 35 runs allowed Pitching probables June 27 (Game 1): Alex Colome vs. Kevin Gausman, 1 p.m., MASN2 HD June 27 (Game 2): Jake Odorizzi vs. Chris Tillman, 7 p.m., MASN2 HD June 28: Erik Bedard vs. Wei-Yin Chen, 4 p.m., MASN2 HD June 29: Alex Cobb vs. Miguel Gonzalez, 1:30 p.m., MASN HD Series breakdown The Rays open a series in Baltimore this afternoon having righted themselves a little after a spiral that sunk them deep into the American League East basement. Since winning just one of 15 games from May 26 to June 10, Tampa Bay is 8-6 during a stretch that includes a series loss to the Orioles from June 16-18. The Rays aren't hot by any means, but their freefall has halted and they've leveled off to play better than .500 ball for about two weeks. Over the last 14 games, Tampa Bay has outscored opponents 59-47, a marked improvement over the previous 15 games when they were blown out 72-35. To put that in greater perspective, the Rays lineup has come around with at least five runs nine times in the last 14 games after being held to two or fewer nine times in the previous 15 (including five shutouts). That hasn't been enough to keep the Rays from remaining last in the AL with 295 runs, 14th with a .370 slugging percentage and 11th with a .247 average. Right fielder Kevin Kiermaier has continued to produce since his mid-May call-up, batting .300 with eight doubles, two triples, four homers and nine RBIs in 31 games. He has a .920 OPS, which would easily lead the club if he had enough at-bats to qualify. Third baseman Evan Longoria is tops on the team with 10 homers while adding 37 RBIs. First baseman James Loney leads the way with 18 doubles and 38 RBIs. Left-hander David Price and right-hander Chris Archer have led a Rays pitching staff that ranks sixth in the AL with a 3.89 ERA. But neither will start in the four-game series at Camden Yards. Tampa Bay will call up right-hander Alex Colome to face righty Kevin Gausman in the first game of Friday's doubleheader. Colome, 25, is 3-2 with a 3.00 ERA in eight starts at Single-A and Triple-A this season. Right-hander Jake Odorizzi, who has allowed three runs in 20 innings for a 1.35 ERA over his last three starts, will pitch opposite Chris Tillman in the second game of the twinbill. Former O's left-hander Erik Bedard will go for the Rays Saturday, having completed six innings just once in his last eight starts and only three times in 13 starts this season. Right-hander Alex Cobb starts Sunday's finale looking to rebound from a rough showing against the Pirates. Tampa Bay will be hoping to reverse its season trend against the Orioles, who have won seven of eight meetings between the teams this year after the Rays went 13-6 against them last year. The Orioles again aim to take advantage of a last-place club to make up some ground in the division, as they enter the series two games behind first-place Toronto. Even though the Rays remain entrenched in fifth in the AL East - 4 1/2 games behind Boston for fourth and 12 1/2 games out of first - they have been playing better lately and won't be the walk-over they were from late May into early June.
Orioles Game 1 lineup vs. Rays
Orioles will recall Meek

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