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News » Orioles-Rays Preview 2008-08-29

Orioles-Rays Preview 2008-08-29

Orioles-Rays Preview 2008-08-29
It's already been a season of impressive accomplishments for the Tampa Bay Rays, and they appear to be adding to that success with each victory.

After reaching yet another milestone, the Rays try to continue their recent dominance of the Baltimore Orioles on Friday when the teams open a three-game series at Tropicana Field.

AL East-leading Tampa Bay (81-51) has reached several notable marks this season, including winning its club-record 42nd home game on Aug. 1, surpassing the total from 2006. Nine days later, the team secured its 71st overall victory to exceed the previous best from 2004.

The Rays have since improved on those numbers, and established another mark on Thursday, getting a homer and two RBIs from Cliff Floyd to beat Toronto 3-2 and assure the club - in its 11th year of existence - of a .500 record.

Tampa Bay can clinch its first winning record Friday.

"Hopefully getting past these barriers, mentally and numbers-wise, we can put that in the past and become the organization we're envisioned on becoming," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.

Tampa Bay, undefeated in 12 series since the All-Star break, has won eight straight series at Tropicana Field. It is 2-1 on a nine-game homestand, and an AL-best 49-19 at home.

The Rays have also been outstanding in going 8-3 versus the Orioles (63-70), winning five straight against them for the first time since May 18-Aug. 19, 2003. Their longest winning streak in the all-time series was a six-game stretch from April 7-Aug. 9, 1999.

Looking to match that mark, Tampa Bay hands the ball to Scott Kazmir (9-6, 3.27 ERA), who is 4-3 with a 4.70 ERA in 12 lifetime starts versus the Orioles, though he hasn't faced them in 2008.

The left-hander didn't receive a decision his last time out, but limited the Chicago White Sox to three runs and four hits, while striking out seven in six innings of a 5-3 road victory Saturday.

The Rays have won nine of Kazmir's 10 home starts - he is 5-1 with a 2.51 ERA in those outings, holding visitors to a .194 average.

Baltimore opens a tough six-game road trip, heading to Boston - the AL wild card leader - for a three-game set after facing the Rays.

The change of scenery could come at the right time as the Orioles won four of their last five away games before finishing a 2-7 homestand during which they lost series to the Red Sox, the New York Yankees and the White Sox.

"We played all very good teams that are all in contention," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "I think it just goes back to a real simple formula: If you don't pitch good you don't have a chance."

On Wednesday, starter Radhames Liz pitched 5 1-3 effective innings and his offense pounded out 16 hits in an 11-3 victory over Chicago to avoid a three-game sweep. Aubrey Huff and Brian Roberts each drove in three runs for the Orioles.

Roberts is 21-for-58 (.362) with a homer and nine RBIs over his last 13 contests, and has batted .389 (14-for-36) in 10 games versus the Rays this season.

The Orioles hope Roberts' hot hitting can support starter Jeremy Guthrie (10-10, 3.28), who looks to rebound from losing back-to-back starts.

The right-hander fanned seven, but allowed a season high-tying five earned runs and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 5-3 loss to the Yankees on Saturday.

Guthrie is 0-2 with a 3.93 ERA in three starts against Tampa Bay this year.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: August 29, 2008

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