The Tampa Bay Rays look to continue their torrid play against the Orioles on Friday when the American League East rivals open a three-game series in Baltimore.
The Rays have won four in a row and 24 of their past 33 games overall, with the latter stretch beginning with a 9-3 victory over the Orioles on July 20. That win ignited a stretch of nine straight victories in the season series for Tampa Bay.
All told, the Rays have averaged a robust eight runs per game while winning 15 of the 16 encounters against the Orioles this season.
Tampa Bay rookie Wander Franco, who has done his fair share of damage against Baltimore, carries a nine-game hitting streak and a 26-game on-base streak into Friday’s contest. Franco also has scored at least one run in nine straight games after crossing the plate twice in Tampa Bay’s 7-4 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday.
“I’m amazed at really everything he’s doing at 20 years old,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “He’s (the equivalent of) a year and a half out of high school, he’s a year and a half before being drafted as a junior. It’s unbelievable what he’s doing.”
Tampa Bay rookie left-hander Shane McClanahan has no trouble believing what Franco is doing. McClanahan, after all, got a good look at Franco while they were teammates in the minors.
“This is exactly what I envisioned Wander doing, to tell you the exact truth,” McClanahan said. “I mean, the guy just plays baseball and does it really well … so I think we all kind of knew Wander was capable of this.”
McClanahan (8-4, 3.63 ERA) will look to win his fifth straight start on Friday. He improved to 3-0 with a 2.65 ERA in three appearances against the Orioles on Aug. 19 after allowing one run on five hits in five innings.
McClanahan, 24, struck out a season-high-tying eight batters in that outing and has 23 K’s overall in 17 innings against Baltimore.
Tampa Bay isn’t the only “streaking” team entering Friday’s series opener. The Orioles snapped a 19-game skid with a 10-6 home win over the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday, then romped to a 13-1 victory against the Angels on Thursday.
The modest two-game winning streak is Baltimore’s first since July 30-31, while the series win was the Orioles’ first since a three-game sweep of the Washington Nationals from July 23-25.
Pedro Severino belted a grand slam to highlight his career-high, six-RBI performance on Thursday.
“We had a tough moment losing (19) game in a row; we didn’t play right, and I just tried to help the team win,” Severino said. “I just got the bases loaded there and tried to put my barrel on it, and I got a good result.”
Orioles rookie Ryan Mountcastle went 2-for-4 with a two-run single. He is riding a 17-game on-base streak into Friday’s encounter with the Rays, against whom he is batting just .200 (9-for-45) with 15 strikeouts this season.
Orioles right-hander Matt Harvey (6-13, 6.27 ERA) will look to snap a three-start skid when he takes the mound on Friday.
Harvey, 32, surrendered two homers for the second straight start Saturday in a 5-4 setback to the Atlanta Braves. He yielded four runs in 5 1/3 innings.
He also permitted two homers in each of his career starts against Tampa Bay, both this season. Harvey went 0-2 with a 15.63 ERA in those outings.
–Field Level Media