With the Tampa Bay Devil Rays swinging their bats the way they have during the first two games of their series against the Baltimore Orioles, Erik Bedard might be the only Orioles pitcher able to slow them down.
Baltimore hands the ball to Bedard on Sunday, as the team looks to avoid being swept by the Devil Rays in a three-game series for the first time since July 22-24, 2005.
Bedard (11-6, 4.02 ERA) has allowed just three runs in his last five starts. He has also won six consecutive outings, posting a 1.07 ERA and striking out 44 batters in 42 innings over that span.
The left-hander was originally scheduled to start on Saturday, but came down with a case of food poisoning, pushing back his start.
“I didn’t want to have (limitations) on my mind,” Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo said about the decision to hold Bedard back a day. “There are going to be no limitations on him. We’ll just let him go, like it never happened.”
In Bedard’s most recent start, on July 15 against the Texas Rangers, he pitched seven innings, giving up one run while striking out six in the 8-1 win.
“Right now, I’m on a roll, and I’m trying to roll with it,” said Bedard, who has recorded five of his six consecutive wins following a Baltimore loss.
He is 5-3 with a 3.41 ERA in 12 appearances against the Devil Rays.
Baltimore (44-55) has used 10 pitchers in this weekend’s first two games against the Devil Rays, allowing a total of 27 runs. On Saturday, the Orioles and starter Rodrigo Lopez took a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the fifth inning. Tampa Bay wound up scoring 10 runs in that frame—seven off Lopez—en route to a bizarre 13-12 win, just the third in the last 13 games for the Devil Rays (41-57).
“We couldn’t get anybody out,” Perlozzo said. “Neither team could. It wasn’t very pretty.”
Tampa Bay shortstop Julio Lugo had a pair of two-run homers—both in the fifth inning—and Russell Branyan, who also had four RBIs, added a three-run shot in the fifth.
“It was a special night. I can say that now because we won,” Lugo said. “I was holding my breath for a little while.”
The Devil Rays will hand the ball to their ace left-hander Scott Kazmir (10-7, 3.40), who is looking to avoid his third consecutive loss. Kazmir dropped his most recent start on Tuesday against the Minnesota Twins, allowing four runs and seven hits in six innings of an 8-1 defeat.
“He started slowly,” Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “Early on he did not have that rhythm. He just wasn’t sharp tonight.”
Kazmir is 2-2 with a 5.34 ERA in six career starts against the Orioles.