Manager: Kevin Cash (2nd season)
Last 10 games: 5-5
Who to watch: 2B Logan Forsythe (.283 with 17 HR, 46 RBIs), 3B Evan Longoria (.282 with 31 HR, 85 RBIs), SS Brad Miller (118 hits, 26 HR), RHP Jake Odorizzi (9-5, 3.56 ERA), RHP Matt Andriese (6-6, 4.19 ERA).
Season series vs. Orioles: 3-9
Sept. 5: RHP Ubaldo Jimenez vs. RHP Matt Andriese, 1:10 p.m., MASN
Sept. 6: RHP Yovani Gallardo vs. RHP Jake Odorizzi, 7:10 p.m., MASN
Sept. 7: RHP Dylan Bundy vs. LHP Drew Smyly, 1:10 p.m., MASN
Inside the Rays:
No team has been eliminated from postseason contention mathematically, of course, but in order for the Rays to keep playing past the first week of October, it's going to take a surge of epic proportions.
So with playoff reservations on the couch all but a certainty, the Rays will spend the month of September as spoilers. That's not necessarily a bad thing for fans. Crushing the dreams of teams in playoff contention can be a thrilling task, particularly when it's likely the opponents are trotting out their best stuff each night in order to gain a spot in the postseason.
The Rays' path as spoilers has been underway for a while now, most recently when they hosted the current American League East-leading Toronto Blue Jays. Tampa Bay actually fell just shy of a three-game sweep over the Jays, and will now look to create hurdles for another postseason hopeful in the Orioles.
If the Rays are hoping to get the best of the Orioles, they had better hope to improve on a 3-9 season mark against the Birds. On offense, that will start with third baseman Evan Longoria. It seems like Longoria carries the Tampa Bay offense each season, and 2016 has been no different. Longoria leads the team in a number of offensive categories, including home runs (31), RBIs (85) and hits (148). Teammate Logan Forsythe has been showing last season was not a fluke, leading the Rays with a .281 batting average and tying a career high with 17 home runs. Shortstop Brad Miller is second on the team with 118 hits and boasts a career .284 average against the Orioles.
Right-hander Matt Andriese starts for the Rays in today's series opener. To say Andriese has had a topsy-turvy season is a bit of an understatement. The 27-year-old began the year winning his first six decisions, posting an impressive 2.66 ERA. His win over the Mariners on June 15 gave Andriese a 6-0 start. It's hard to believe that's the last time he's won a game, but since that victory, Andriese has lost his last six decisions, including going 0-4 with a 7.76 ERA in August. Jake Odorizzi will make his fifth start against the Orioles this season on Tuesday and look to continue a streak that, coincidentally, began the last time he faced the Birds. Odorizzi is undefeated since the All-Star break, going 6-0 with 1.89 ERA during that stretch. He's 3-3 in 11 career starts against the Orioles. In Wednesday's series finale, the Rays will send southpaw Drew Smyly to face Orioles right-hander Dylan Bundy. Smyly is hoping for better success against Baltimore this time around, as his only other appearance against the Orioles this season did not go well. Smyly allowed eight earned runs on 10 hits at Camden Yards, though he has won three of his last four home starts.
Alex Colome handles closing duties for the Rays. Although he hadn't recorded a save in his major league career before this season, Colome has tallied 30 of them in 2016 and has posted a 2.09 ERA. The Rays also have left-handers Xavier Cedeno and Enny Romero at their disposal in the bullpen as they hope to keep the Orioles out of the postseason for the second straight year.
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