Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 5/13/12
The Baltimore Orioles perched alone atop the AL East may come as a surprise to many, but not to them. Now, they'll try to get a rare home win against James Shields before hosting another divisional challenger. The Orioles look to continue proving they're not a fluke by sweeping the Tampa Bay Rays at Camden Yards for the first time in almost five years on Sunday. Baltimore (22-12) has been a mostly moribund franchise since winning the East and reaching the AL championship series in 1997, the last time the club finished with a winning record. For that reason, today's Orioles stand out as of the biggest surprises of 2012, currently tied with Texas for the best record in the AL. They've opened a two-game lead in the division by winning the first two games of this series, beating Tampa Bay 5-3 on Saturday after opening the three-game set Friday with a 4-3 victory. "We found people that we can play with and we can win (with)," reliever Pedro Strop said. "A lot of people are asking me, 'Are you surprised at this team?' We're not surprised. We aren't surprised. We've been doing what we were hoping. A lot of people are surprised, but we're not. We are going to keep winning games." A win Sunday would give Baltimore its first sweep of the Rays (20-14) at Camden Yards since taking three in a row July 24-26, 2007, during the last season in which Tampa Bay was known as the Devil Rays and finished with a losing record. The Orioles also swept Tampa Bay on the road in three games to open 2011. "I know we won the series now," center fielder Adam Jones said after Saturday's victory, "but we want the sweep." If the Orioles pull off the sweep, their closest challenger in the East could become the New York Yankees, who currently trail by 2 12 games and visit Camden Yards for two games starting Monday night. First, Baltimore must overcome Shields (5-1, 3.23 ERA). The right-hander is 5-1 with a 3.44 ERA in 10 career starts at Camden Yards. The Rays lost with Shields on the mound for the first time in seven games this season Tuesday, as he allowed three runs, four hits - two homers - and three walks in six innings of a 5-3 defeat to the Yankees. That snapped a personal five-game winning streak, during which he compiled a 1.98 ERA. Tampa Bay is trying to avoid a seventh loss in eight games after tying a franchise record with five errors - three in the second inning - Saturday. "We made way too many errors," said manager Joe Maddon, whose club has made 28 errors on the season - double its total through 34 games in 2011. Orioles center fielder Adam Jones is hitting .387 with five doubles, a triple and a homer off Shields in 31 career at-bats. He is also 8 for 22 with two doubles, two homers and six RBIs in his last seven games versus Tampa Bay. Jake Arrieta (2-3, 4.23) is scheduled to get the ball for Baltimore in an effort to win a third consecutive start versus the Rays. The right-hander defeated them twice last season while allowing two runs and six hits over 13 innings. Arrieta hasn't been nearly that sharp over his last three home starts, going 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA. That includes Tuesday's 10-3 loss to the Rangers, in which surrendered a season highs of six runs, nine hits and three homers in 6.1 innings.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Vlade Divac indicates DeMarcus Cousins’ agents killed other deal

Report: Julius Thomas traded to Dolphins

Joe Mixon likely to go undrafted in April?

Belichick officially updates boat’s name to ‘VII Rings’

Canseco warns humanity about robot takeover in Twitter rant

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Rick Ankiel drank vodka before pitching in 2000 NLDS

Kings throw shade at Cousins in press release announcing trade

Report: Jets tampered with Revis through private phones, secret meetings

Calipari shoots down talk of him leaving Kentucky for Pelicans

Report: Carmelo prefers trade to Clippers or Lakers

Report: Kings blowing up roster, putting Darren Collison, Ben McLemore on block

The 'Did the Kings just make the Pelicans into a super team?' quiz

The guard tandems you'd want in a 2-on-2 tournament

We got our hands on the new Nintendo Switch, here are our first impressions

Top 10 second basemen in baseball for 2017

Teams and players who could be dealing at the NBA trade deadline

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

Too much to Process: Can Simmons match the Embiid hype?

There will never be another Dirk Nowitzki

Baseball movies you can stream now to hold you over until Opening Day

Is the NBA All-Star Game worth saving?

Movies you can stream now to get your football fix

The Rewind: Michael Jordan's last All-Star Game

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 'Did the Kings just make the Pelicans into a super team?' quiz

The guard tandems you'd want in a 2-on-2 tournament

We got our hands on the new Nintendo Switch, here are our first impressions

Top 10 second basemen in baseball for 2017

Teams, players who could be dealing at the NBA trade deadline

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

QUIZ: Name every MLB pitcher with 200 or more wins since 1961

Baseball movies you can stream now to hold you over until Opening Day

There will never be another Dirk Nowitzki

Movies you can stream now to get your football fix

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker