Fri Sep 18 3:52am ET
The Tampa Bay Rays are making a run at the American League East title, and their lead is up to 3 1/2 games after sweeping the host Baltimore Orioles in a doubleheader Thursday.
The victory in the nightcap of the twin bill assured the Rays of making the AL playoff field. Still, the Rays are going to keep pushing, and they will try for a third straight win versus Baltimore when the teams meet Friday at Camden Yards.
The Rays had some problems at the plate recently, and manager Kevin Cash said that it's time to make the bats come alive again.
"We definitely need to get it going and turn it on offensively," Cash said. "It's not one guy. It's multiple times that we've seen opportunities come up and we're just not able to capitalize on them."
Tampa Bay didn't do much offensively in Game 1 on Thursday, a 3-1 victory, but they came through with two runs in the seventh (final) innings. The second game saw the Rays bang out three homers -- Willy Adames, Hunter Renfroe and Joey Wendle -- to outslug the Orioles 10-6.
The Rays lost Austin Meadows in Game 1 due to an oblique problem. He did not play in Game 2. His status for Friday was uncertain.
Tampa Bay (33-18) is attempting to hold off the surging New York Yankees, who belted 19 homers while sweeping a three-game series from the Toronto Blue Jays the past three days. The homer total was a major league record for any three-game sequence.
New York's rediscovered fire power is putting pressure on the Rays, who hope they can continue to pick on the fourth-place Orioles (22-29).
Tyler Glasnow will start Friday for the Rays. He is 3-1 with a 4.47 ERA this year and has done well against Baltimore during his career, going 3-0 with a 2.12 ERA in five starts.
The Orioles have been slumping lately but are hoping Alex Cobb (1-4, 5.03 ERA) can help turn things around. The veteran right-hander has been up and down this season, sometimes pitching very well, and that's something Baltimore needs.
Cobb has an 0-3 record with a 4.61 ERA in five career starts against the Rays.
The Orioles have dropped eight of their past 10 games, causing their thin shot at the playoffs to all but disappear. They've had lots of problems on offense, something that's been an issue all season due to inconsistency.
But now, the team is getting strong work from its young starting pitchers. In the first game Thursday, Dean Kremer gave up just one run for the third straight game while coming away with a no-decision in just his third major league start.
"I take two things," Kremer said. "One, that I can still compete no matter what I have that day, and two, I need to be able to make adjustments quicker."
Bruce Zimmermann, a Baltimore native, made his major league debut as the Orioles' starter in the nightcap. The left-hander gave up two homers and five runs on four hits in three-plus innings, walking one and striking out two.
--Field Level Media