The Orioles have won four in a row and are now a season-high 14 games over .500 at 44-30 and Tampa Bay is spiraling downward with a 10-game losing streak. It’s the Rays’ longest losing streak since dropping 10 in a row from May 26-June 4, 2014.
For the Orioles, it is a case of beat your opponent while they are down as Tampa Bay has fallen to 31-42 on the season and now is 12 ½ games behind the Orioles in the American League East. The Rays are dealing with several injuries right now and inconsistent pitching, especially from their bullpen.
The Orioles selected outfielder Joey Rickard from the Rays in last December’s Rule 5 draft. I asked Rickard about the Orioles beating up on his former organization this weekend.
“It’s baseball,” he said. “Everybody goes through tough stretches, but yeah, you try to stay aggressive with it. They are going to come right at you, they are fighting like we are. It was a good day for us.”
Is it unusual for Rickard to play against a Tampa Bay team that drafted him in the ninth round of the 2012 draft? A Tampa Bay organization he played with until this year?
“It is all fun and games,” Rickard said. “I had a great time there. They wished me the best and I wished them the best. At the end of the day it’s baseball and we are out here having fun doing it.”
Rickard is 7-for-26 (.269) against the Rays this season with a homer and five RBIs. The Orioles are 6-2 versus Tampa Bay, including a 5-0 mark at home. The Birds have allowed just 19 runs with a team ERA of 2.31 in the season series against Tampa Bay.
After he hit two homers in last night’s win, catcher Matt Wieters talked about the Orioles’ defense on Saturday. The infield was outstanding in the day game win and then Adam Jones made his diving catch with the bases loaded in the third inning last night which was huge in that win.
“We pride ourselves on defense,” Wieters said. “First game we played great defense and continued it over. Infield played great defense in the first game and Adam made a great play in the second game.”
June boon: The Orioles are having quite a month of June and most of their success this month is due to an offense that is bashing homers and scoring a lot of runs.
In fact, the Orioles lead the major leagues this month in runs (147), batting average (.292), slugging (.522), OPS (.873) and home runs (48). While the O’s team ERA this month is just 4.71 to rank 21st in the majors, all that offense has led the Orioles to a 16-8 mark in June. The O’s went 14-9 in April and 14-13 in May.
The Orioles have outhomered every team in baseball this month by at least nine homers and all but one team in the majors by at least 15.
MLB team homer leaders in June:
48 - Orioles
39 - Toronto
33 - Colorado
Meanwhile, Jones is having a strong month. In June the Orioles center fielder is batting .288 with a .615 slugging percentage and .934 OPS. He has hit 10 homers with 24 RBIs this month. Jones is tied for the MLB homers lead in June as Wil Myers of San Diego also has 10. Edwin Encarnacion of Toronto and Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria have hit nine. Jones’ 24 RBIs rank tied for third in MLB this month.
Today the Orioles go for their first-ever four-game sweep of Tampa Bay when Tyler Wilson (3-5, 4.19 ERA) pitches against left-hander Drew Smyly (2-7, 4.78 ERA).