Where: Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, Maryland
The Baltimore Orioles are surging toward the top of the American League East again and will try to take advantage of the 11-game homestand squarely in front of them to seal a playoff spot. The Orioles look to remain unbeaten against the Tampa Bay Rays at home this season when they host their AL East rivals on Thursday in the opener of a four-game set.
Baltimore, which trails first-place Boston by one game in the division, has recorded seven straight wins – six in 2016 – against the Rays at Camden Yards and owns one of the best records at home in the major leagues (45-25). The Orioles host Boston next week after attempting to improve on an 11-4 record versus last-place Tampa Bay, which is coming off its first road series win since July 18-20. Baltimore leads the majors with 232 homers while the Rays belted a pair in Wednesday’s 8-1 triumph at Toronto to set a franchise record with 200 blasts. Corey Dickerson has launched 20 of those and has been hot of late, going 16-for-31 with eight RBIs during his eight-game hitting streak.
TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, FSN Sun (Tampa Bay), MASN (Baltimore)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Rays LH Blake Snell (5-8, 3.62 ERA) vs. Orioles RH Yovani Gallardo (5-7, 5.44)
Snell has lost three of his last four starts and did not complete four innings in any of those defeats. The Seattle native, who has not finished six frames in seven of his last eight outings, has served up five homers in 16 games but walked 45 in 77 innings overall. Snell, who will face Baltimore for the first time in his career, is 3-3 in seven starts against AL East opponents during his rookie campaign.
Gallardo has permitted three or fewer earned runs in seven of his last nine contests but is just 2-5 in that stretch. The 30-year-old Mexican won at Tampa Bay last time out to snap a four-game losing streak, yielding two runs – one earned – and five hits in five innings. Dickerson is 5-for-11 with a homer versus Gallardo, who is 3-1 with a 3.55 ERA in six career starts against the Rays.
1. Tampa Bay 3B Evan Longoria, who is batting .193 with three homers against Baltimore this season, is one away from his career high of 33 blasts set in 2009.
2. Baltimore RF Mark Trumbo reached 100 RBIs for the second time in his career on Wednesday with his major league-leading 42nd homer.
3. Rays SS Alexei Ramirez is 3-for-13 for a homer and three RBIs in four games since being signed as a free agent.
PREDICTION: Rays 6, Orioles 3