O’s game blog: Looking to even the series with Tampa Bay

The Orioles’ final road trip before the All-Star break continues tonight in St. Petersburg, Fla. where the Orioles face the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays won the series opener 6-3 last night as Kevin Kiermaier hit a go-ahead three-run homer in the sixth.

Tampa Bay (49-36) is the American League wild-card leader but trails the Yankees by 6 1/2 games in the AL East. Coming into this series, Tampa Bay was 1-3-2 over its past six series and the Rays went 13-16 in June. The Rays have trailed in 18 of their last 20 games.

The Orioles (24-60) have scored zero and three runs in the past two games after scoring 13 on back-to-back nights Friday and Saturday against Cleveland. The Orioles have scored four or fewer runs in 51 games this season, going 6-45.

Wojciechowski-Reds-sidebar.jpgRight-hander Asher Wojciechowski, 30, gets the start tonight for Baltimore. He was acquired by the team just yesterday from Cleveland for cash considerations. At Triple-A Columbus this year, he went 8-2 with a 3.61 ERA. Over 84 2/3 innings he walked 31 and fanned 82, posting a .217 average against and 1.16 WHIP.

Over his past four Triple-A starts he had a 1.35 ERA of 1.35 with seven walks and 27 strikeouts over 26 2/3 innings. In his last two starts he allowed one run over 13 2/3.

Wojciechowski will be making his Orioles debut and his first major league start since Aug. 23, 2017 with Cincinnati against the Chicago Cubs. He becomes the 46th player to appear for the Orioles this season. This marks his second stint with the organization. He spent part of the 2018 season with Triple-A Norfolk (19 games, 12 starts) before he was released on July 18. He has also spent time with the Blue Jays, Astros, Marlins, Diamondbacks, Reds, White Sox and Indians organizations. He was originally drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the first round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft (No. 41 overall) out of The Citadel.

Wojciechowski has appeared in 30 major league games (11 starts) in his career, going 4-4 with a 6.64 ERA with 26 walks, 80 strikeouts, and 16 home runs over 78 2/3 innings. This will be his fourth career appearance and second start against an AL East foe, and his first career start and appearance against the Rays. In his first three games against the division, he has gone 0-0 with a 5.14 ERA over seven innings with one walk, six strikeouts and three home runs. All three of his appearances against the AL East came in 2017 while he was with the Reds.

Wojciechowski has the longest last name in Orioles history.

Right-hander Charlie Morton (8-2, 2.43 ERA) gets the start for the Rays. He was named to the American League All-Star team for a second straight season after being added as an injury replacement last season. Morton ranks among AL leaders in ERA (2.43, 2nd), wins (8, tied for 8th), winning percentage (.800, 5th), strikeouts (120, 7th), WHIP (1.05, 7th), opponent batting average (.197, 3rd) and HR/9 IP ratio (0.63, 1st).

He has thrown seven innings or more in three of his last 6 starts. Morton is 1-2 with a 4.41 ERA in four starts against the Orioles, and most recently faced them on Sept. 30, 2018 at Baltimore. He threw three scoreless innings. He yielded seven runs in two innings in his first start against the Orioles on June 20, 2011, but since then is 1-1 with a 1.26 ERA in three starts.

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