A road trip that’s been rough both on and off the field for the Tampa Bay Rays is about to come to an end.
The reeling Rays look to avoid a third straight loss while trying to salvage a split of their four-game series with the last-place Baltimore Orioles on Thursday night.
Tampa Bay (73-73) dropped to 1-9 on its 11-game road trip through New York, Boston and Baltimore after rookie catcher Matt Wieters(notes) hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to give the Orioles a 4-2 win Wednesday.
The loss came mere hours after Tampa Bay All-Star Carl Crawford(notes) angrily shouted at teammate Pat Burrell(notes) in the clubhouse. It’s uncertain what sparked the incident, but it was yet another frustrating moment for the reigning AL champions, who have lost 13 of 14 and are on the verge of falling below .500 for the first time since they were 30-31 on June 10. The Rays are batting .208 in their last 14 games.
“You definitely didn’t expect this, but you just deal with it,” Crawford said of the team missing the postseason one year after reaching the World Series. “I never thought we’d end up like this.”
Crawford had two hits Wednesday, but was thrown out twice by Wieters trying to steal. It was the second time in his career Crawford was nabbed twice in the same game; the other was April 10, 2007.
Crawford has 57 steals and has been thrown out 14 times, but is only 27 for 41 after opening the season with 30 straight successful stolen-base attempts.
Wieters’ game-ending heroics came after Tampa Bay’s Ben Zobrist(notes) tied it with a homer - his 24th - in the top of the ninth. Zobrist, who made his first All-Star team this season, batting .400 with four home runs and 12 RBIs against the Orioles (60-85) in 2009.
Wieters is playing like an All-Star in this series, going 5 for 10 with two home runs and nine RBIs, including a career-high five in a 10-5 win Tuesday.
“He’s been holding his own in this league,” teammate Luke Scott(notes) said of the rookie, who is batting .273 with seven homers and 35 RBIs in 79 games. “This is not an easy league. It’s a tough league and he’s been doing good. The more hits he gets, the happier I’m going to be because I’m going to get better pitches to hit in the future.”
Hendrickson is 3-4 with a 5.32 ERA in nine starts against the Rays. He allowed five runs in two innings, but didn’t receive a decision in a 7-5 loss to them May 12 at home.
Facing Baltimore for the first time, right-hander Wade Davis(notes) (0-1, 8.38) makes his third career start for Tampa Bay after giving up eight runs in 2 2-3 innings of a 9-1 loss at Boston on Saturday.
Baltimore is 7-6 against Tampa Bay after going 3-15 in the 2008 season series. These teams will meet at Tropicana Field for four more games Sept. 28-Oct. 1.