Most people think of Florida, and they think of tropical warm weather. For Baltimore Fans we think of a date with our arch nemesis, the Tampa Bay Rays.
It’s that time again where the Orioles prance back into the A.L. East for a division set against the first place Rays, as we look to right and steady the ship, while putting a pin in the side of the Rays . The Orioles are 198-206 versus the Rays in their short existence, with only 91 of those victories coming in sunny Florida.
The Orioles will send rookie Keegan Akin (0-0), who has given up three ERs in his last 12.2 innings of work. Sporting a 3.60 ERA after starting the season at the training site, Akin sets his sites on containing the Tampa lineup that has only two hitters batting better than .260.
Cedric Mullins and Ryan Mountcastle will look to continue their recent surges, as the Orioles also welcome back Austin Hays from the 10-day I.L. In other roster news, RHP Shawn Armstrong has cleared waivers and was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk.
For the Rays, Ryan Yarbrough toes the rubber, with a 3.95 ERA that has only led to two victories in his last seven starts. He did pitch a complete game last outing against the Yankees, in which he allowed only two runs, while striking out six.
To win this series, the O’s need to do multiple things right. Here are some things they can do to do just that!
Keys to the Series: 🔑
1. Keep Arozarena off the board:
Yes, Randy Arozarena is good. How good? Well, he went 8-for-16 with three homers and eight RBI in the last series these to teams met. And he still hasn’t slowed down since that series average-wise, hitting .333/.364/.476 in his last five games. However, Arozarena has not hit a homer in his last 17 games. It will be crucial to keep that fact going in this series, especially with runners on base.
2. Attack Yarbrough again:
In Yarbrough’s last start against the O’s, the Birds lit him up. The young left-hander gave up six runs, three of which were via the long ball. Even though the O’s ultimately lost that game, they got to the Rays’ starter early. They need to capitalize on that and do the same in game one of this series to hopefully get an early series lead.
3. Get runs early:
The Rays lead all of Major League Baseball in innings pitched by relievers thus far in 2021. They also hold the fourth best bullpen ERA in baseball (3.32). For the Orioles, this means getting on the board early. You don’t want to have a deficit heading into the late innings with this team.
Here are tonight’s starting lineups for game one:
Tampa Bay Rays (39-24):
1. Manuel Margot RF
2. Yandy Díaz 1B
3. Austin Meadows DH
4. Randy Arozarena LF
5. Mike Brosseau 3B
6. Brandon Lowe 2B
7. Taylor Walls SS
8. Mike Zunino C
9. Kevin Kiermaier CF
SP. Ryan Yarbrough LHP
Baltimore Orioles (22-39):
1. Cedric Mullins CF
2. Trey Mancini DH
3. Anthony Santander RF
4. Ryan Mountcastle 1B
5. Austin Hays LF
6. Freddy Galvis SS
7. Maikel Franco 3B
8. Pedro Severino C
9. Pat Valaika 2B
SP. Keegan Akin LHP
Game time for game one is 7:10 p.m. ET at Tropicana Field. The game will be available on MASN2 and on the flagship station of the O’s, 105.7 The Fan!
How do you see this series playing out? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to follow The Baltimore Battery on the web and on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Spotify! And make sure to use the hashtag #thebaltimorebattery when sharing our content to show your Birdland swag!