The Tampa Bay Rays will look to continue their mastery of the host Baltimore Orioles when they open a three-game series on Friday.
The Rays opened the season with a three-game sweep of the visiting Orioles in St. Petersburg, Fla., after defeating Baltimore in 18 of the teams’ 19 meetings last year, including going 9-0 at Camden Yards.
Tampa Bay, which has won two in a row and five of its last seven games, will hand the ball to left-hander Jalen Beeks (1-0, 1.72 ERA), a reliever who will be making his first start of the season.
Beeks has made nine appearances totaling 15 2/3 innings this season, including 1 2/3 innings against the Orioles. Beeks allowed two hits to go along with four strikeouts and a walk during an 8-0 win on April 10.
The Orioles, who lost six straight games until defeating the Yankees, 9-6, on Thursday, will counter with right-hander Tyler Wells (1-3, 4-18 ERA). Wells allowed three runs on eight hits with two strikeouts and no walks over four innings in a 5-1 loss at Detroit on Sunday in his last start.
Wells struggled mightily against the Rays earlier this season. He lasted just 1 2/3 innings in which he gave up four runs on three hits with two strikeouts and two walks in an 8-0 loss on April 10.
Tampa Bay had an off-day Thursday after taking two of three games against the visiting Detroit Tigers. Starting pitchers Corey Kluber, Shane McClanahan and Drew Rasmussen allowed a combined three runs on 12 hits while striking out 22 without a walk over 18 innings.
Tampa Bay’s starters have compiled a 1.15 ERA during the past seven games, during which time the team ERA is 1.97.
“Our pitching is going to be our avenue to winning the most ballgames,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
Meantime, the Orioles ended a six-game losing streak with their most exhilarating win of the season on Thursday. Anthony Santander hit a three-run homer in the ninth inning to lift Baltimore to a 9-6 victory over the Yankees, who were seeking to sweep the four-game series.
Santander, who went 3-for-4 with two doubles, three runs scored and a walk, hit the first walk-off home run of his career when he drove a cutter from Yankee reliever Lucas Luetge (1-1) down the left field line with one out.
Santander’s 376-foot blast enabled Felix Bautista (1-1) to pick up the win for the Orioles, who had seen Jorge Lopez blow a save opportunity in the top of the inning.
“I put myself in the pitcher’s shoes in that situation,” Santander said through a translator. “Knowing that he wanted to come in, trying to jam me, trying to make me hit a soft grounder to force a double play. I was really able to get my hands in and focus on that. I hit the ball really well.”
With the victory, the Orioles tied their season high with nine runs and finished with 11 hits, with Tyler Nevin and Trey Mancini each recording two.
“Last two nights, we lost one-run games,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “I thought today was some of our better at-bats of the season.”
–Field Level Media