The Other McCain

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Orioles Face ‘Huge’ Series in Tampa

Posted on | July 20, 2023 | 1 Comment

Tyler Wells has thrown 105 strikeouts in 19 games

Last season, the Baltimore Orioles finished fourth in the American League’s East Division, and the year before that, they were fifth, losing 110 games. As of last night, however, the O’s were leading the AL East with a 58-37 record (.611), just fractionally ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays (60-39, .606). As recently as July 1, Tampa had a 6½-game lead over the Orioles in the division, but Baltimore is 8-2 in their last 10 games, while the Rays, who jumped out to a strong lead early in the season, are 3-7 in their last 10 games. Everything will be on the line starting tonight when the O’s face the Rays in Tampa for a four-game series:

“It’s all you want. You want to get to the big leagues, and then once you get here, your goal is to win,” [Orioles left fielder Austin] Hays said. “That’s what we’re playing for now. We’re winning a lot of games right now. We’ve got a long way to go, but we’ve put ourselves in a good situation at this point in the season.”
The Orioles (58-37) visit Tropicana Field on Thursday tied with the Rays (60-39) for first place in the AL East. The last time Baltimore was atop the division this late in the year was August 2016 — the last season they made the playoffs. If the Orioles sweep the Rays, it would be their first time with a four-game lead in the AL East after the All-Star break since September 2014 — the last season they won the division. . . .
“We knew that all those losing seasons wouldn’t last forever,” [Baltimore first baseman Ryan] Mountcastle said. “It came quicker, I think, than most people thought, and we’re just excited to be where we’re at right now. This series is going to be huge, and we’re super excited for it.”

A few years ago, my son Jim became an Orioles fan, listening to them on the radio during his long drives home from contracting jobs. The past couple of years have been painful for Jim and the rest of the O’s faithful, and this season’s long chase of the Rays has been frustrating. There were times when Baltimore’s record would have put them on top of any other division in the major leagues, but there they were, stuck in second place in the AL East behind Tampa, which was playing .600-plus baseball for so long that it couldn’t last forever. Baltimore deserves credit for hanging tough for three months, waiting for the Rays to stumble. The big break came during a stretch earlier this month when Tampa went 3-5 while the Orioles put together a seven-game win streak. Then on Wednesday night, the O’s beat the Dodgers 8-5 while the Rays lost 5-1 to the Texas Rangers.

The Orioles have been led this year by right fielder Anthony Santander (.272, 17 HR, 54 RBI), catcher Adley Rutschman (.275, 13 HR, 41 RBI), left fielder Austin Hays (.304, 9 HR, 37 RBI) and third baseman Gunnar Henderson (.247, 15 HR, 41 RBI). Top starting pitchers for Baltimore are Dean Kremer (10-4, 4.80 ERA), Kyle Gibson (9.6, 4.77 ERA) and Tyler Wells (7-5, 3.54 ERA), with Felix Bautista (4-1, 1.00 ERA, 26 saves) as their bullpen ace. Gibson is expected to take the mound tonight. All the O’s need to do is take it one game at a time. Orioles fever — catch it!



One Response to “Orioles Face ‘Huge’ Series in Tampa”

  1. The Hottest Team in Baseball : The Other McCain
    July 24th, 2023 @ 6:00 pm

    […] I told you last week, the O’s were facing a huge test in their four-game weekend series in Tampa against the Rays, who had led the American League East […]