The Tampa Bay Rays will go for their sixth straight win when they visit the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday.
The streaking Rays have won 25 of their past 34 games as they nurse their lead in the AL East. They’ve dominated the Orioles this season, winning 10 straight and 16 of 17 games.
“Sometimes it happens that way where it becomes a little lopsided during a season,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “But what it says the most is these guys get up to play regardless of who they’re playing, and they’re going out to try and win the game.”
Tampa Bay right-hander Michael Wacha (2-4, 5.88 ERA) opposes left-hander John Means (5-6, 3.50).
Wacha has one last chance to salvage something positive out of a miserable August. He’s 0-2 with a 9.95 ERA in four starts this month, allowing 38 hits, including five home runs, in 19 innings.
In his last time out, he allowed four runs, three earned, in five innings of a no-decision against the White Sox. That was an improvement over his previous three starts.
Wacha has no wins or losses but sports a 6.75 ERA in three starts versus the Orioles this season. In his career against Baltimore, he is 0-1 with a 7.11 ERA in five starts.
Means has struggled recently as well, giving up 10 earned runs over two mid-August starts as his ERA climbed from 2.79 to 3.44. He allowed five home runs in those two losses.
In his last time out Means, bounced back a bit, giving up three runs on four hits in six innings, taking a 3-1 loss against the Braves.
“Probably a little bit more encouraged. Still wasn’t great, but definitely a step in the right direction in some aspects,” Means said. “I thought the heater had a little more life. Just got to locate the changeup a little better.”
Means will be making his fifth start of the season against the Rays, having gone 0-2 with a 6.20 ERA in the first four. In his career, Means is 3-3 with a 4.50 ERA in nine games, including eight starts, against the Rays.
Mike Zunino hit a three-run homer off reliever Tanner Scott in the seventh inning Friday night that proved to be the difference in the 6-3 win.
It was Zunino’s 27th homer of the season. He’s hitting .280 (14-for-50) in August with seven homers and 12 RBIs, raising his season batting average from .194 to .211.
“The first couple of at-bats against [Matt] Harvey, just missed a couple pitches,” Zunino said. “It was nice to have those three at-bats today where I felt pretty balanced and decent in the box to continue to build off of.”
Wander Franco (0-for-3 with a walk) reached base for the 27th straight game and scored a run in his 10th straight game but saw his nine-game hitting streak ended.
The Orioles got home runs from Cedric Mullins and Austin Hays. Baltimore had won two in a row.
After a quality start from Matt Harvey (three runs over six innings) Scott couldn’t keep it close. After four straight scoreless appearances, he hit a batter and walked another before Zunino’s blast.
“Tanner can be really good at times, and tonight wasn’t his night,” manager Brandon Hyde said.
The Orioles released infielder Maikel Franco after he cleared waivers. He hit .210 with 11 homers and 47 RBIs in 104 games.
–Field Level Media