Orioles-Rays Preview

Suddenly, the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays are headed in opposite directions.

The shine of the Orioles' unbeaten start has quickly worn off, and the host Rays will try to hand them their fourth straight loss on Wednesday night while returning the favor of an early-season sweep.

Baltimore (11-8) was the darling of the AL after its first 7-0 start since opening 9-0 as the St. Louis Browns in 1944. The Orioles are 4-8 since, though, and dropped their third straight with Tuesday's 3-1 loss at Tampa Bay.

A lineup that averaged 5 runs through its first 16 games has combined for two in the last three, leading to a 1-4 start to a six-game road trip.

Baltimore did snap its 20-inning scoring drought with Mark Trumbo's RBI single in the fourth inning on Tuesday - which extended his hitting streak to 11 games, one shy of his career best.

However, the Orioles failed to add on despite having the bases loaded with no outs.

''We've got to execute better in that situation, and more times than not this season we have," catcher Caleb Joseph said.

The Orioles sent the minimum to the plate in the final five innings, their three singles wiped off the board by a pickoff and two double plays. Baltimore's Nos. 1-4 hitters - Joey Rickard, Adam Jones, Manny Machado and Chris Davis - are batting .109 the last three games with four singles and a double.

Machado opened the season with a 16-game hitting streak but is hitless in his last 13 at-bats. Jonathan Schoop is mired in a 2-for-30 slump.

Baltimore has one run and 14 hits in the first two games of this series after totaling 11 runs and 21 hits in a two-game home sweep of the Rays from April 8-10.

Tampa Bay (10-10) has won three straight and four in a row at Tropicana Field. The Rays are 7-3 since their 3-7 start.

In a matchup of two pitchers who have plenty of experience against the opposing team, Tampa Bay will send Matt Moore to the mound.

Moore (1-1, 3.60 ERA) has seen mixed results in nine career starts against Baltimore, combining for a 1.56 ERA in seven of them and a 11.70 mark in the other two. He tossed seven scoreless innings in his most recent matchup but left with a no-decision in a 4-3 loss Sept. 17.

In his first three starts this season, Moore allowed six runs and 15 hits over 18 1/3 innings while striking out 21. However, in Friday's 6-3 loss at Yankee Stadium, he surrendered eight hits and four runs in 6 2/3 innings.

"He probably wasn't quite as sharp as we've seen him, but he still threw the ball well and gave us a chance to win the ballgame," manager Kevin Cash told the team's official website.

Baltimore will counter with Chris Tillman (1-1, 4.42), who has thrown 122 1/3 innings against the Rays - more than any other opponent. This is the eighth consecutive series against Tampa Bay that he will start a game in.

The right-hander's ERA in this matchup is just one tenth of a point lower than his 4.20 career mark. He has failed to pitch six innings in four of the last five starts, logging a 5.67 ERA, but has a 2.93 mark in nine outings at Tropicana Field.

Evan Longoria has hit .333 against Tillman in 51 career at-bats with seven home runs and four doubles.

Desmond Jennings and Kevin Kiermaier, though, are a combined 4 for 40 in this matchup.


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