The Tampa Bay Rays can’t escape the Baltimore Orioles these days, either in individual games or in the American League wild-card race.
Baltimore rallied past the visiting Rays 5-3 on Tuesday and will look to clinch the four-game series on Wednesday night.
The comeback kids managed only two hits — both solo home runs — off Tampa Bay starter Shane McClanahan in seven innings Tuesday night, but Ramon Urias sparked a three-run eighth with a two-run homer off reliever Colin Poche.
“I don’t think there was a single time tonight that I thought we didn’t have a chance to win the game, and I think everybody throughout the clubhouse thinks that, as well,” Orioles starter Spenser Watkins said. “As long as there’s an out up on the board, we have a chance. A ton of confidence in these guys.”
The Orioles improved to 14-6 in July, following a 14-12 June and guaranteeing them consecutive winning months for the first time since April-June, 2016.
Baltimore moved ahead of Boston into fourth place in the AL East and trails the Rays by three games for the final AL wild-card spot.
“It’s one game at a time,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “A lot of season left. We’re just really focused on trying to win the series tomorrow.”
Tampa will look to end a four-game losing streak behind starter Drew Rasmussen (6-3, 3.13 ERA).
The right-hander allowed one run on seven hits over five innings with four strikeouts and a walk in a 7-3 victory over the Royals on Friday, his first win since May 25.
“I felt pretty good,” he said. “They battled and they did a really good job of fouling off good pitches with two strikes and finding some holes. I gave up one hard-hit ball in the second, but other than that I didn’t think I allowed many.”
Against Baltimore, Rasmussen has gone 1-0 with a 2.19 ERA in four games (two starts) in his career.
Baltimore right-hander Tyler Wells (7-6, 3.69) went 17 straight starts allowing three runs or less before giving up five runs on five hits in five innings of a loss against the Yankees on Friday night.
Wells is 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA in seven games against the Rays, three of them starts.
Isaac Paredes had a single and a homer for Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
Rays outfielder Luke Raley, 27, started his fourth straight game for the first time in his short major league career. He had a hit and robbed Ryan Mountcastle of a potential home run with a leaping catch in the first inning.
“I’m excited to be out there,” Raley said. “I’m trying to make the most of each opportunity.”
Before the game, the Rays lost another starter as primary catcher Francisco Mejia was placed on the 10-day injured list with a right-shoulder impingement.
Baltimore’s Trey Mancini will bring an 0-for-25 skid into Wednesday’s game, though he drove in a key insurance run with a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning on Tuesday.
–Field Level Media