After the Tampa Bay Rays had their longest win streak in nearly four years snapped on Tuesday, manager Joe Maddon said his team was ready to start another run. The Rays got off to a good start in their last game.
After closing the best April in franchise history with a victory, the Rays go for their eighth win in nine games as they visit the Baltimore Orioles in the finale of a three-game series between AL East rivals within striking distance of the division lead.
Tampa Bay (15-12) won six consecutive games from April 22-27 to match its longest win streak since the franchise-record 12-game run from June 9-22, 2004. This year’s streak ended with a 7-4 loss to the Orioles in the opener of this series on Tuesday, but the Rays got back on track with an 8-1 victory on Wednesday night.
Andy Sonnanstine held Baltimore to one run in eight innings and Eric Hinske put Tampa Bay on top for good with a fourth-inning homer as the club capped a 14-12 April after winning its only game in March.
In 10 years of existence before 2008, Tampa Bay had never been three games over .500 this late in the season.
“It’s something we can build on,” Maddon said. “Now let’s have the best May in club history.”
Getting off to a good start in May could be a struggle against a Baltimore team that’s also coming off an impressive opening month. The Orioles (15-12) are tied with the Rays for second-place in the AL East, one game behind Boston.
With one month of the season behind him, Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said Wednesday he doesn’t want to keep hearing about how his club’s success is such a surprise.
“This team has played as well as could be expected,” he told the Orioles’ official Web site. “They’ve played hard; they’ve competed; they’ve won one-run games; they’ve come from behind. We’ve had contributions from a whole lot of different people. Let’s start getting a little bit of credit instead of that other (stuff), how terrible we are, no one expected anything.
“The team has been tremendous. I’m not surprised.”
The Orioles will try to continue their success with Brian Burres (3-1, 2.49 ERA) on the mound. The left-hander held the Chicago White Sox to three hits in eight scoreless innings of a 5-1 victory on Saturday, and has given up only one run in 19 2-3 innings spanning his three victories (0.46 ERA).
Burres’ other two appearances this season came against the Rays, who have won four of seven meetings in the series. Burres pitched a scoreless inning of relief against them on opening day, but was reached for six runs in 4 2-3 innings of a 6-2 loss on April 13. He’s 0-2 with an 11.42 ERA in 10 career games - two starts - against Tampa Bay.
Burres will match up against Rays starter Matt Garza (0-0, 7.62), who’s making his second start against the Orioles this year. The right-hander gave up five runs in 5 1-3 innings of Tampa Bay’s 9-6 loss on April 2, snapping his three-start win streak against Baltimore. He’s 3-0 with a 3.68 ERA lifetime against the Orioles.
Garza is coming off his best outing of the year. He held Boston to three runs and five hits in five innings of Tampa Bay’s 5-4, 11-inning victory on Friday.