O’s game blog: Andrew Cashner pitches series finale

The Orioles will try to end their two-city road trip with a victory tonight, as they meet the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. The Rays go for the sweep after posting wins by 4-2 and 8-1 over the last two nights.

The Orioles (7-12) have lost seven of nine and are 2-4 on this road trip to Boston and St. Petersburg. They’ve scored just three runs in this series on 10 hits against a Tampa Bay pitching staff that leads the majors in team ERA at 2.33 and in rotation ERA at 1.54.

Orioles starting pitchers have an ERA of 5.44 and have thrown 82 2/3 innings. The Orioles bullpen has an ERA of 6.67 and has worked 82 1/3 innings. The Orioles offense has scored four runs or fewer 12 times and the club is 1-11 in those games.

The Rays are 14-4 and 8-1 over their last nine games, outscoring their opponents 59-24 in that span. Tampa is 6-0 in series and has scored 68 runs its last 11 games.

Nunez-HR-Swing-Gray-Sidebar.jpgRenato Nύñez’s home run on April 12 at Boston was the furthest hit ball by an Oriole this season (450 feet) and it ranks as the 15th furthest hit ball in the majors this season. It also was the second-hardest hit ball by an O’s player on the year (112.7 mph). Trey Mancini has put 24 balls into play at 95 mph or more to lead the team. First baseman Chris Davis has hit 52 percent of balls in play at 95 mph or more, the highest average on the Orioles. Davis’ average distance on balls in play of 225 feet leads the team and ranks 18th in the majors this season.

Mancini is hitting .571 (8-for-14) with two home runs and seven runs scored in the first inning. His seven runs scored in the first frame lead the majors, while his eight hits are tied for second-most. Mancini’s two first-inning home runs are tied for the second-most in the majors. He hit six home runs in the first 12 games, tied for the most in O’s history through the team’s first 12 games with Frank Robinson (1969) and Davis (2013).

Right-hander Andrew Cashner (3-1, 5.31 ERA) makes his fifth start tonight. Last year, he won four of his 28 starts and didn’t post his third win until July 27. This year, he’s won three of four starts to begin the year. Cashner has received seven runs and six runs of support, respectively, in his last two starts, both wins. Last season, he did not have a start in which he received over five runs of support. His 7.08 run support average is the highest among Orioles starters.

Since allowing six runs in four innings opening day, Cashner is 3-0 with an ERA of 3.31 his past three starts. In four career starts against Tampa Bay, he is 2-1 with a 4.13 ERA and 1.458 WHIP.

Right-hander Hunter Wood (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will start tonight as an opener for the Rays. The 25-year-old Wood has thrown four scoreless innings on the year with no walks and five strikeouts. He’s thrown his four-seam fastball 75 percent of the time in that very small sample size and with an average velocity of 92.5 mph.

Tides post a win: Triple-A Norfolk beat Durham 8-5 this afternoon. The Tides are 6-9 and have won five of their last seven. Ryan Mountcastle went 3-for-4, hit his third homer and is batting .268. Stevie Wilkerson hit a three-run homer and is batting .326. Keegan Akin got the start and a no-decision, allowing three runs over 4 2/3 innings. Winning pitcher Chris Lee gave up one run over 3 1/3 innings and Jay Flaa pitched a scoreless ninth for his first save.

Right-hander Hunter Harvey (0-1, 8.31) gets the start tonight when Double-A Bowie plays at Akron. Infielder Mason McCoy takes an 11-game hitting streak into play tonight when Single-A Frederick hosts Salem. And right-hander Grayson Rodguez (2-0, 0.00) makes his third start tonight for Single-A Delmarva. He’s fanned 20 batters in 11 scoreless innings. The Shorebirds (11-1) have a nine-game winning streak.

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