Before the All-Star break, the Orioles lost their last game but won the last series. They won two of their last three series, going 5-4 over the past nine games to finish with a first-half record of 27-62. So 89 games down and 73 to go in the 2019 season.
That season resumes tonight as the Orioles host the American League East second-place Tampa Bay Rays to begin a three-day, four-game series. It’s the start of a nine-game homestand with the Washington Nationals and Boston Red Sox following the Rays to Oriole Park.
Tampa Bay (52-39) is 6 1/2 games behind the New York Yankees in the division race. They hold the No. 1 AL wild card by 1/2 game over Cleveland, two games over Oakland and 2 ½ over Boston.
The Rays split a four-game series with the Yankees at home last weekend, losing the first two and winning the last two by 4-3 and 2-1 scores. Tampa Bay led the AL East as late as June 14 but since then the Yankees are 16-4 and Tampa Bay is 10-12. The Rays head to New York after this series and play AL East clubs in 17 of their next 20 games.
The Rays’ 3.32 team ERA leads Major League Baseball with the Los Angeles Dodgers next at 3.37. Tampa Bay also leads MLB in starting pitcher ERA at 3.01 with the Dodgers next at 3.06. Rays pitchers rank third in the majors with 878 strikeouts, but have fanned 10 or more batters in seven of their last eight games. When the Orioles lost two of three last week at Tropicana Field, Baltimore batters fanned 41 times in the series.
The Orioles are 3-5 versus the Rays, going 1-1 at home and 2-4 on the road. The O’s are 3-9 against Tampa Bay since Aug. 9, 2018.
The Orioles beat Toronto at Rogers Centre 4-1 and 8-1 in the first two games of the series last weekend before Sunday’s 6-1 loss. During their 5-4 run, the O’s team ERA is 3.12 and their starting pitchers are 4-3 with a 2.39 ERA.
Right-hander Dylan Bundy (4-10, 4.65 ERA) will make his 18th start tonight. Friday at Toronto, Bundy allowed just one run and three hits over 6 2/3 innings, throwing 96 pitches with 51 percent fastballs.
From May 4-June 15, Bundy went 3-4 with a 3.09 ERA, allowing three earned runs or less for eight consecutive starts. He’s allowed three or fewer earned runs 13 times in 17 games. But the Orioles are 5-12 in those starts.
Right-hander Yonny Chirinos (7-4, 3.15 ERA) will make his 19th appearance and 13th start tonight for the Rays. He sports a WHIP Of 0.990 that ranks second in the AL to Houston’s Justin Verlander at 0.81. He ranks tied for sixth in the AL in ERA.
The 25-year-old from Venezuela threw seven innings last Thursday against the Yankees, allowing five hits and three runs on 101 pitches. Over his past six games, he is 1-2 with a 3.00 ERA, 11 walks and 32 strikeouts in 39 innings.
In two games this season versus the Orioles, he is 1-1 with a 2.19 ERA. Over 12 1/3 he has given up eight hits and three runs with two walks and eight strikeouts