Orioles-Rays Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated June 06, 2013
Since getting swept by the Tampa Bay Rays last month, the Baltimore Orioles have been one of the hottest teams in baseball. The visiting Orioles will try to keep rolling with a better performance against the Rays in a three-game series that begins Friday night. Baltimore gave up 25 runs in its three home losses to Tampa Bay from May 17-19, part of a season-high six-game losing streak. Since that skid, the Orioles (34-26) have won 11 of 16 despite their pitchers still not performing at their best. Baltimore's staff has a 4.96 ERA over that stretch, but the Orioles are batting .303 and producing 5.3 runs per game. They totaled 11 hits in a 3-1 victory in Houston on Thursday with J.J. Hardy going 4 for 4. Hardy is 11 for 19 in five games this month and Chris Davis, who had two hits Thursday, is batting .475 (28 for 59) with seven homers in his last 15 contests. "He's just so steady, a steady human being. J.J, he likes to win," manager Buck Showalter said. "He's at a stage in his career where he has individual accomplishments, he's established himself as a quality shortstop. He doesn't tolerate things that aren't conducive to winning, especially from himself." The Orioles will try to keep hitting against the Rays (32-27), who have struggled for consistency since a season high-tying six-game win streak. Tampa Bay has alternated losses and victories in its last five games, falling 5-2 in Detroit on Thursday. The Rays will start Chris Archer (0-1, 11.25 ERA), who had a miserable season debut Saturday in Cleveland. The right-hander gave up five runs, seven hits and three walks over four innings of a 5-0 defeat. "My fastball command wasn't really there as consistently as I would've liked it," Archer told the team's official website. "If you fall behind a good-hitting team and then leave pitches up, you're going to get banged. A good-hitting team got me on a day when I was a little off." Archer has faced Baltimore once and allowed one run over 3 2-3 innings of relief in suffering a 3-2 loss Sept. 13. He'll throw opposite Jason Hammel (7-3, 5.43), who struggled with his command in his most recent outing. Hammel allowed five runs, five hits and three walks before being ejected in the fourth inning of a 10-3 loss to Detroit on Saturday. After giving up three straight homers, the right-hander threw a pitch that hit Matt Tuiasosopo in the left shoulder then ricocheted off his helmet. "Zero intent there to hit him. Obviously I give up three home runs, but I'm not the guy that answers getting hit around with hitting somebody," Hammel said. "That's bush league if you ask me. It was a mistake. A slider that got away." Hammel struggled against his former club May 17, allowing season highs of seven runs and 10 hits to the Rays over 4 2-3 innings of a 12-10 loss. He performed significantly better in the Orioles' season opener in Tampa Bay on April 2, giving up three runs and three hits over six innings of a 7-4 win. Baltimore claimed two of three games in that series and won four of the first six matchups before last month's sweep.
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