O’s game blog: Series against Rays begins

After winning a series in Kansas City, taking the last two games against the Royals by 8-4 and 5-0 scores, the Orioles road trip moves onto St. Petersburg, Fla., tonight. They face a Tampa Bay Rays team pushing for first place in the American League East, a club that has not lost against the Orioles this year.

The Orioles (30-62) recorded their third shutout of the year on Sunday. Right-hander Matt Harvey allowed three singles over six innings with one walk and two strikeouts. He improved to 4-10 with an ERA of 7.13 after a 74-pitch outing. Harvey, who recorded his first win since May 1 at Oakland, threw first-pitch strikes to 18 of 23 batters.

The Orioles bullpen completed the shutout. The ‘pen pitched 7 1/3 scoreless innings over the last two games, allowing five hits. Kansas City, which has lost six of its last seven games, was shut out for the fifth time.

Now the Orioles play a Tampa Bay (55-38) club that won two of three over the weekend against Atlanta. The Rays are in second place in the AL East, a half-game behind Boston. The Rays are 8-2 in their past 10 games and 36-19 since May 13. The Rays have won three straight series against Cleveland, Toronto and Atlanta.

Tampa Bay is 6-0 against the Orioles this season and has outscored them 48-21. Tampa Bay has scored 25 runs in 25 1/3 innings off Orioles starting pitching and 23 runs in 25 2/3 innings against the bullpen. Dating to Aug 25, 2020, the Rays are 12-1 in 13 games against the Orioles and have outscored them 75-37 over that stretch.

The Rays have won the series opener at Tropicana Field seven straight times and have won 10 consecutive home series against the Birds, a stretch that began from July 24-26, 2017. The Rays have beaten the Orioles in the season series in four consecutive years.

But Tampa Bay has given up more runs lately. The Rays have allowed five or more runs in 14 of their past 25 games (56 percent) after doing so in just 22 of the first 68 games (32.4 percent).

Watkins-Throws-White-Sidebar.jpgRight-hander Spenser Watkins (1-0, 1.74 ERA) will get the start, his third for the Orioles. On July 6, he gave up one run and three hits over five innings against Toronto. On July 11, he gave up one run and four hits in 4 1/3 innings against the Chicago White Sox. For the year, he has allowed two runs and seven hits over 10 1/3 innings with six walks and six strikeouts. He has a WHIP of 1.258 and the Orioles are 1-1 in his two starts.

Lefty batters are 0-for-9 with three strikeouts against him. Right-handed batters are hitting .292 (7-for-24).

Watkins is throwing his fastball 53 percent of the time at an average speed of 90 mph. He uses his cutter 29 percent and his curveball 17 percent of the time.

Lefty Ryan Yarbrough (6-3, 4.30 ERA) will make his 19th outing and 14th as starter for the Rays. Over his past three games, he is 2-0 with a 2.81 ERA, allowing five earned runs in 16 innings with three walks and 13 strikeouts. On the season, he has a WHIP of 1.183 allowing a 1.6 walk rate with a 7.4 strikeout rate.

Yarbrough has made nine outings at home, going 2-2 with a 4.87 ERA and 1.263 WHIP. The Rays are 8-5 in his 2021 starts. He has faced the O’s twice this season, going 1-0 with a 3.75 ERA and allowing a .234 batting average against and an OPS of .797.

Yarbrough uses his cutter the most, throwing it 42 percent at an average speed of 82.8 mph, with his changeup 29 percent, slider 17 percent and fastball just 12 percent, averaging 86.7 mph.

There was a lot of movement today on the O’s farm:

Outfielder Robert Neustrom - Double-A Bowie to Triple-A Norfolk
Right-hander Ryan Conroy - Single-A Aberdeen to Bowie
Outfielder Zach Watson - Aberdeen to Bowie
Right-hander Ignacio Feliz - Single-A Delmarva to Aberdeen
Outfielder Hudson Haskin - Delmarva to Aberdeen
Right-hander Zach Peek - Delmarva to Aberdeen
Right-hander Ryan Watson - Delmarva To Aberdeen

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