Orioles plow through adversity to reach tonight's series opener at Tropicana Field

The Orioles return to their division tonight having lost four of their last seven series. However, they’ve won seven of their last 10 games.

They began yesterday tied with the Rangers for the second-best record in the American League and are 5 ½ games ahead of the third-place Yankees, who have lost four in a row. However, they are constantly pressed to prove their resiliency in the face of more adversity, including inflammation of their injured list.

There’s always a back and forth with this team, like the number of wins but also the huge amount of tight margins.  

A two-game series against the Rays begins tonight at Tropicana Field with the Orioles having seven players on the injured list. Backup catcher James McCann is the latest after spraining his left ankle Saturday afternoon.

(Sliding and diving into first base are never recommended. Avoid at all costs.)

The Orioles lost their leadoff hitter and one of their best players at the plate and in the field when Cedric Mullins strained his right groin. He’s on a running and hitting progression in Sarasota, but it’s going to be a while before he’s back with the team.

Ryan Mountcastle has vertigo. His placement on the IL was retroactive to June 10. He worked out for three days in Chicago and could return this week, but this condition is so unpredictable.

Mountcastle is 4-for-30 with 11 strikeouts in his last eight games. He’d like to become less predictable at the plate and go on another tear.

Relievers Mychal Givens and Dillon Tate are on injury rehab assignments. Manager Brandon Hyde told the media that he didn’t expect Givens to return for the Rays series.

Austin Voth has inflammation in his right elbow, and the plan calls for him to be shut down for at least a week before attempting to throw. John Means won’t return before August, which is a big deal when you’re the ace of the staff.

Gunnar Henderson was a late scratch from Sunday’s game because he had the stomach flu. It’s apparently going around the clubhouse. Outfielder Austin Hays and reliever Danny Coulombe are believed to have been two of its victims.

I can’t remember a stretch where the Orioles have made so many 40-man roster moves in a condensed period, thought it could just be my faulty memory.

They designated reliever Reed Garrett for assignment on Sunday to make room for backup catcher José Godoy, after designating backup catcher Mark Kolozsvary to make room for Garrett, after designating pitcher Noah Denoyer to make room for Kolozsvary.

I think that’s right.

If you were waiting for Godoy, congrats on your good fortune but shame on you for the pun. Maybe he catches Wednesday’s day game - assuming that the Orioles don't swap out backups.

The flurry of 40-man moves began on June 13, but you can go back 10 days earlier when Tate was transferred to the 60-day injured list to make room for Josh Lester, who remains with the Orioles.

Kolozsvary cleared outright waivers and elected free agency. We’re waiting to find out what happens to Denoyer and Garrett.

We’re also waiting to find out whether the Orioles have the stamina and stubbornness to keep moving forward and at least secure a wild card spot, if not host a series or win the division.

Hyde has used 38 players this season, and that doesn’t count Godoy, Luis Torrens, Spenser Watkins, Drew Rom and Nick Vespi, who are or were on the active roster but didn’t get into a game. Watkins is in the bullpen again.

The club record for most players used is 62 in 2021, followed by 58 in 2022 and 2019, 56 in 2018 and 54 in 1955.

The Orioles trail the Rays by five games. They won two of three in May at Camden Yards.

They went 2-7 at Tropicana Field last summer and are 94-125 all-time beneath the dome. A tough place to play, except for the fact that it’s always 72 degrees and there’s no threat of rain.

The Orioles return to St. Petersburg in July for a four-game series.

The Rays own the best record in the majors at 51-24 and the second-best run differential at plus-143, but they lost the last two games in San Diego and are 4-5 in their last nine. They have the second-highest OPS in the majors at .803 and have scored the second-most runs at 415. Their 117 home runs also ranked second.

The pitching side is pretty good, too. Their 3.49 ERA was second lowest yesterday. The starters ranked first at 3.11. The bullpen was 15th at 3.94.

Tyler Glasnow didn’t make his first start until May 27 due to an oblique injury. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2021, limiting him to two regular season starts the following year. He brings a 3.43 ERA and 1.286 WHIP into tonight’s game, with 11 walks and 26 strikeouts in 21 innings.

Glasnow is 4-0 with a 2.08 ERA and 0.865 WHIP in six career starts against the Orioles. He’s walked six and struck out 48 in 34 2/3 innings.

Aaron Hicks is 3-for-8 with a triple and two walks against Glasnow.

Kyle Bradish faced the Rays twice as a rookie and allowed 11 runs and 16 hits in 9 2/3 innings. He’s never pitched at Tropicana Field.

Randy Arozarena went 3-for-5 with two home runs. Yandy Díaz was 4-for-6 with a double.

Arozarena is a career .361/.415/.697 hitter in 40 games against the Orioles, with seven doubles, 15 home runs and 38 RBIs.

The Rays have noticed what the Orioles are doing this season. They’re aware of the distance between them in the standings.

“They are a very athletic team,” manager Kevin Cash said, via The Tampa Times. “I don’t want to speak for them, but it feels like they are building confidence and momentum. They’ve got a bunch of young players that are doing good things together.

“We’ve seen what that can do (with the Rays) for years when young players have success. The confidence just continues to grow, and it feels like that’s what’s happening over there.”

“It’s, like, a relatively young team,” Glasnow said. “They have a lot of good, talented players. Seems like they have like a pretty loose clubhouse and they’re all kind of meshing this year. They’ve had a couple of tough years, but I think they put together a really nice team. You can just tell they’re kind of reaping the benefits of it now.”

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