Tampa Bay's newest acquisition has given the Rays another reason to believe they can make a playoff push.
Baltimore's sputtering offense isn't giving the Orioles the same optimism.
Ryan Roberts looks to build on an encouraging debut and help the Rays complete a three-game sweep of the Orioles on Thursday at Camden Yards.
Tampa Bay (51-47) and Baltimore (51-47) are tied in the standings - 2 1/2 games out of an AL wild card spot - after the Rays' 10-1 victory Wednesday. David Price became the majors' first 14-game winner and Roberts homered and scored three runs in his first game with Tampa Bay.
Roberts arrived only a few hours before game time after being traded from Arizona late Tuesday. He had 19 homers and 65 RBIs last season for the NL West champion Diamondbacks, but hadn't enjoyed the same success this year. The Rays are hoping a change of scenery will get his bat going, and it certainly seems possible given his track record against AL pitching.
He is batting .289 with three homers, four doubles and 10 RBIs in 13 games against AL opponents this season, compared to .245 with four home runs, five doubles and 26 RBIs in 71 contests against the Senior Circuit.
"I felt comfortable," Roberts said of his debut. "Maybe I belong here with this new group of guys."
The Rays have won four of six overall and five of their last six against Baltimore.
The Orioles are mired in a three-game losing streak, plating one run in each defeat. They've scored the third-fewest runs in the AL with 398, and have dropped nine of 11 at Camden Yards, averaging 1.9 runs in the defeats.
"We'll be better," manager Buck Showalter said.
Matt Wieters has been at the center of Baltimore's hitting woes, going 0 for 12 with seven strikeouts during the skid, and he has one hit in his last 27 at-bats. He is 2 for 9 with a homer and a double against scheduled starter James Shields (8-6, 4.39 ERA) since the start of last season, while fellow All-Star Adam Jones is 1 for 9.
Shields allowed three runs and four hits while striking out 10 in 7 2-3 innings in a 4-3, 14-inning win over Seattle on Friday. It was a step in the right direction for the right-hander after he went 1-2 with a 6.08 ERA in his previous four starts, yielding at least 10 hits in each.
Shields gave up six runs - four earned - in 6 1-3 innings of a 9-8 win in Baltimore on May 13, his lone start in the season series.
The Orioles counter with Chris Tillman (2-1, 1.15), who allowed a run and six hits in 6 2-3 innings of Saturday's 3-1 win at Cleveland. In his three starts since being called up from the minors, he has yielded three runs over 15 innings in his two victories, but was tagged for seven runs - one earned - while failing to get out of the first in a loss at Minnesota on July 16.
"In Minnesota things didn't go my way," the right-hander said. "But I knew exactly what I had to do - keep the ball down in the zone."
This will be Tillman's sixth career start against the Rays, and he's still seeking his first win having gone 0-2 with a 5.06 ERA.
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|July 21, 2012||Luke Scott||15-Day DL||Right oblique strain|
|July 21, 2012||Alex Cobb||Day-to-Day||Left game - right knee contusion|
|July 02, 2012||Hideki Matsui||Day-to-Day||Left game - left hamstring tightness|
|June 30, 2012||Jeremy Hellickson||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised right shin|
|June 29, 2012||David Price||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower back tightness|
|June 20, 2012||Matt Joyce||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|July 16, 2012||Robert Andino||15-Day DL||Left shoulder subluxation|
|July 16, 2012||Robert Andino||Day-to-Day||Left shoulder strain|
|July 14, 2012||Jason Hammel||15-Day DL||Arthroscopic surgery, right knee|
|July 02, 2012||Brian Roberts||15-Day DL||Torn muscle, right hip|
|June 28, 2012||Nick Johnson||60-Day DL||Sprained right wrist|
|June 27, 2012||Nick Johnson||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore right wrist|
BALTIMORE (AP) -- The Orioles had been throttled the night before, and here they were back at Camden Yards trying to avoid a sweep on a hot, humid afternoon.
Instead of wilting, the Orioles flourished.
Chris Tillman took a three-hitter into the seventh inning, Chris Davis homered and drove in four runs, and Baltimore showed its mettle in a 6-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday.
"It was smoking out there. It's a day you don't want to make too many visits to the mound," manager Buck Showalter said. "That's a challenging day. I'm proud of them. Short rest, turn around. That's why they're different."
It certainly has been a different kind of season for Baltimore, which remains in the wild-card hunt following a run of 14 straight losing seasons. Just when it seems the Orioles can't possibly stay afloat, they snap a three-game skid by excelling in all three areas.
Tillman turned in a fine pitching performance, Davis carried the offense, and first baseman Mark Reynolds and shortstop J.J. Hardy showed exceptional glove work in the second inning while turning a double play.
"This was a challenge day today. It was," Showalter stressed. "Our guys responded."
Nick Markakis had two hits for the Orioles, who had scored only one run in each of their three previous games. It was just the second time in 10 games that Baltimore scored more than four runs.
Tillman (3-1) allowed two runs, five hits and four walks in six-plus innings. It was the 40th career start for the right-hander, who was coming off a solid effort in Cleveland and now has won two straight decisions for the first time.
"I think confidence has a lot to play into it," Tillman said. "It comes down to getting my delivery right. I put a lot of hard work in during the offseason and coming in, so I'm happy with where I'm at right now."
Baltimore batted around against James Shields (8-7) during a five-run fifth. With the bases loaded and one out, Adam Jones drove in two runs with a single. A walk to Matt Wieters filled the bases for Davis, who collected three RBIs with a double into the gap in left-center.
After the Rays chased Tillman by scoring twice in the seventh, Davis hit his 16th home run of the season off Burke Badenhop in the bottom half. Davis hadn't collected more than one RBI in a game since July 2 and came in batting .152 in 30 games since June 15.
"It meant a lot especially with the quick turnaround from last night," Davis said. "Sometimes you're going to be hot, sometimes you're not, but hopefully we'll start stringing hits together and put some runs up on the board."
Sam Fuld drove in both runs for Tampa Bay with a two-run double in the seventh. After scoring 10 runs in a blowout win on Wednesday night, the Rays managed only seven hits, went 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position and grounded into three double plays.
"It was their day today, it was not our day," Tampa Bay manager John Maddon said. "However, if for the rest of the season whenever we play a team three games and we win two of them, I'm very very happy. You get greedy when you win the first two ... but they've been playing pretty well."
Shields gave up five runs, six hits and five walks in six innings. Although he struck out 10 in a second straight start, the right-hander fell to 6-2 at Camden Yards. He is winless in four starts since July 3.
"It came down to three hits and me walking too many guys," Shields said. "I was able to execute my pitches for the most part all day besides the walks. I left a bad pitch over the plate to Jonesy and Davis hit a pretty good curveball."
NOTES: The Orioles recalled LHP Dana Eveland and optioned INF Steve Tolleson to Triple-A Norfolk. ... Wieters went 0 for 11 in the series and is mired in a 1-for-30 skid ... In his second game with the Rays, Ryan Roberts went 0 for 2 with two walks. ... The Rays continue their first trip since the All-Star break in Los Angeles on Friday night. The Orioles host Oakland on Friday night. ... Tampa Bay's bullpen had a run of 21 straight scoreless innings snapped when Davis homered off Badenhop. ... Desmond Jennings notched his 18th stolen base for the Rays, including 17 straight without being caught.