For the Baltimore Orioles postseason hopes, it all comes down to this.
Tonight the Orioles travel to the Sunshine State to begin a four-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays. Currently the O’s trail the Rays and the Texas Rangers by two games for a spot in the American League Wild Card.
With just 10 games remaining in the season, the Orioles can’t afford to lose the series (or likely even split it) in Tampa. Orioles’ centerfielder, Adam Jones, tweeted his view of his team’s current situation Friday afternoon:
Starts tonight. This is the position we wanted to be in. And opportunity to do something special. Grind this motha out
— Adam Jones (@SimplyAJ10) September 20, 2013
This year against the Rays, the Orioles are 6-9 and the two teams have split the six games at Tropicana Field in Tampa.
The Orioles, who have won four of their last six games, will have their work cut out for them when it comes to Rays probable starting pitchers. Each of the four probable Rays starting pitchers have a .500 record or better and only Jeremy Hellickson (5.23) has an ERA greater than 3.45.
In the first game of the series the Orioles will send Jason Hammel (7-8, 5.12) to the mound to face former AL Cy Young winner David Price (8-8, 3.42 ERA). Hammel is pitching on six days rest and will be making his fourth appearance against Tampa this season. For 2013, Hammel is 1-2 versus the Rays and has allowed 12 runs in 17.1 innings. Danny Valencia is 9 for 12 off Price in 15 career plate appearances.
The Orioles have yet to announce a starting pitcher for Saturday’s game, however they are scheduled to battle Alex Cobb (9-3, 3.02 ERA). In his last start against the O’s on Aug. 20, Cobb allowed one earned run on just three hits through six innings.
Scott Feldman (12-10, 3.49 ERA) will matchup against Hellickson (11-9) in a Sunday matinee. Feldman has been excellent in his last seven starts. Opponents are batting .175 off him and he has a 1.77 ERA in that span.
For the series finale, the O’s will have Wei-Yin Chen (7-7, 4.03 ERA) opposing the rookie Chris Archer (9-7, 3.02 ERA). Chen has yet to win a game in Sept.; his last win was on Aug. 21 against the Rays. In that victory Chen pitched seven strong innings and allowed just two runs, both coming off solo home runs — he has a 2.93 ERA in seven starts against the Rays.