Right-hander David Hess (1-2, 3.32 ERA) gets the start tonight as the Orioles play the second game of their three-game set at Tropicana Field. The Tampa Bay Rays won 4-2 last night to improve to 13-4, while the Orioles are now 7-11 on the year, 6-5 on the road and 2-3 on the current road trip.
The Rays have the best record in the majors and their plus-40 run differential also tops all teams. Tampa Bay leads the American League East by 5 1/2 games. The total division lead in the sport’s other divisions is a combined 5 1/2 games.
At 13-4, the Rays have produced the third-best start by an AL East team in the last 27 years behind the 2018 Red Sox (15-2) and 2003 Yankees (14-3). The Rays are 7-1 in their last eight games and have outscored opponents 51-23 over that span.
More notes on the Orioles and Rays:
* The Orioles have scored two runs or less five times on the year. They’ve scored four runs or fewer 11 times and are 1-10 in those games.
* The O’s have a starting pitching ERA of 3.86 in the last turn through the rotation. It began with Hess’ last start followed by Andrew Cashner, John Means, Dan Straily and Dylan Bundy last night. They allowed 11 runs in 25 2/3 innings.
* The Orioles have just two quality starts and they came in back-to-back games April 1-2 by Hess and Cashner. They have no quality starts the past 13 games.
* O’s starting pitchers have thrown 90 or more pitches in a game just twice in 2019 and they have not done it over the past eight games.
* Dwight Smith Jr. is batting .333 (7-for-21) over his past six games with three homers and eight RBIs.
* Renato Núñez is batting .345 (10-for-29) during a seven-game hitting streak with a homer and six RBIs.
* Since the start of last season, the Rays are 57-32 (.640) at Tropicana Field, the third-best home record in the majors. The Rays are 5-0 in series play this season, the most consecutive series wins to start a season in franchise history.
* The Rays have scored 60 runs in their last 10 games after 22 runs in their first seven games. According to Statcast, the Rays have put 123 balls in play with an exit velocity of at least 100 mph, most in the AL and third-most in the majors behind the Brewers (140) and Dodgers (132).
The Rays will use an opener tonight as right-hander Ryne Stanek (0-0, 2.16 ERA) gets the start. He’s walked two and fanned 10 in 8 1/3 innings this season, including three starts. In 29 starts as an opener last year, he went 0-2 with a 3.38 ERA and 1.125 WHIP. In his three starts this season he has thrown five scoreless on one hit with no walks and eight strikeouts.
Tampa Bay has a team ERA of 2.41 to lead the majors and a starting rotation ERA of 1.56 to lead the majors. Over the last 13 games, Tampa Bay starters have an ERA of 0.85.
Can’t stop Delmarva: Yep, the Shorebirds won again today and again via a walk-off hit. Andrew Fregia’s single in the 11th inning gave Delmarva a 2-1 win over Kannapolis and an 11-1 start. They completed a perfect 7-0 homestand that featured three walk-off wins.
Starter Blaine Knight fanned nine and gave up just one hit over five innings. In three starts, he has an ERA of 1.15 and a WHIP of 0.64. Righty Tyler Joyner (4-0) got the win and has thrown 8 1/3 scoreless innings. Adam Hall and Branden Becker had two hits for the Birds.
Delmarva has won nine in a row. This is the Shorebirds’ longest run since an 11-game ride from April 21 through May 2, 2011. That Shorebird team featured future major league All-Stars Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop, plus nine other future major leaguers. Current Shorebirds manager Kyle Moore was a bullpen catcher on that team.