The struggling Orioles looks to continue their success over the Devil Rays when the teams open a three-game series at Camden Yards on Tuesday night.
With the exception of a third-place finish in 2004, Baltimore (14-18) has finished fourth in the AL East every season since 1998. Tampa Bay (14-17), meanwhile, has finished last in the division every year since joining the majors that same season except 2004, when it finished one spot ahead of last-place Toronto.
Although the Blue Jays are currently last in the East, the Orioles are just one-half game ahead of them while the Devil Rays are one-half game better than Baltimore.
The Orioles got their season off to a promising start, winning 11 of their first 18 games. Since then, however, they have lost 11 of 14 and have the same record after 32 games as they did in 2006, when they finished 70-92.
After opening their four-game series against Cleveland with two straight wins, the Oriole settled for a split with back-to-back losses.
Baltimore’s bullpen allowed nine runs in three innings Monday in a season-worst 10-1 loss.
“They’re going to get hit once in a while,” Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said. “I don’t think they’ve had heir best stuff. They’re better than that.”
The middle of the Orioles order continued to struggle as Miguel Tejada, former Devil Ray Aubrey Huff and Melvin Mora were a combined 1-for-12. That trio has no home runs and two RBIs in the past five games.
Catcher Ramon Hernandez, Baltimore’s hottest hitter with eight RBIs in his last two games, was given the day off.
Perlozzo wants to protect Hernandez, who missed the first 22 games with a strained left oblique.
“His ankle was bothering him a little bit yesterday, also,” he told the team’s official Web site. “You need to take care of him. He’s not that far removed from his injury and he’s got a little nagging thing. He deserves a day (off).”
One of the few teams Baltimore has had success against lately is Tampa Bay, winning eight of the last 10 meetings overall and 14 of 18 at home.
Jeremy Guthrie (1-1, 5.87 ERA) will come out of the bullpen to make his second start of the season for the Orioles. Guthrie, essentially taking the place of the injured Jaret Wright, has allowed six runs over 2 1-3 innings in three relief appearances since his last start.
Guthrie pitched well in his only start, yielding two runs and four hits in five innings on April 24 in a 4-2 loss to Oakland. He is 1-0 with a 5.40 ERA in two career relief appearances against Tampa Bay.
The Devil Rays failed in a bid to win their third straight series, falling 5-3 at home to Oakland on Sunday.
Tampa Bay may be an unimpressive 6-8 on the road, but that puts it on a much better pace than last season, when it lost 33 of its final 36 games away from home.
Jae Seo (1-2, 8.19) rebounded from his worst start of the season with his best outing Wednesday in Tampa Bay’s 4-3, 10-inning win over Minnesota. The right-hander limited the Twins to two runs and seven hits in six innings. Seo had been reached for five runs or more in four of his first five starts.
Seo, who has only two wins in 22 starts with the Rays, pitched 7 2-3 strong innings in his only career appearance against Baltimore on Sept. 20 without receiving a decision.