Tampa Bay (4-3) at Baltimore (1-6)

Cloudy Currently: Baltimore, MD
Temp: 59° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Tue Apr 13, 2010
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Camden Yards has been rather accommodating for the Tampa Bay Rays, especially for Carl Crawford(notes) and Jason Bartlett(notes).

The duo look to continue their superb play there Tuesday night when the Rays attempt to beat the punchless Baltimore Orioles for the fourth time in five tries this season.

Tampa Bay (4-3) has won 15 of 22 games in Baltimore (1-6), hitting .283 with 26 homers.

Crawford and Bartlett are big reasons for that success.

Crawford owns a .349 average with 17 RBIs in 24 games at Camden Yards, while Bartlett is batting .415 with 18 runs scored during a 17-game hitting streak there.

Another big game from Crawford powered the Rays to a 5-1 win over the Orioles in Monday night’s series opener, as the left fielder went 4 for 4 with a double and a solo homer. He also made a diving catch in the seventh to protect a two-run lead.

“I started swinging the bat a little better, got a few pitches I could handle, found some holes,” Crawford, who raised his batting average 125 points to .375, told the team’s official Web site. “I just hope I can continue to swing the bat like that.”

Crawford is 6 for 14 with four RBIs in four games against Baltimore this season, while Bartlett is 6 for 18 with a double and two RBIs.

Tampa Bay is scheduled to give Jeff Niemann(notes) (0-0, 0.00 ERA) his regular turn in the rotation after his season debut was reduced to 12 pitches by a line drive off the bat of Miguel Tejada(notes). The ball struck the right-hander on the shoulder, forcing him to exit after a perfect 2 1-3 innings of a 5-4 loss to Baltimore on Thursday.

Niemann threw about 30 pitches during a bullpen session Sunday, and manager Joe Maddon is encouraged enough to send him to the mound.

“He’s good and that he feels fine,” Maddon said. “So I’m assuming as of right now that he can (make his start).”

Niemann went 13-6 with a 3.94 ERA in 31 games last season.

Unlike Crawford and Bartlett, Niemann hasn’t enjoyed much success in five games at Camden Yards, going 2-2 with an 8.47 ERA.

The Orioles haven’t started a season 1-7 since setting a major league record by opening 1988 with a 21-game losing streak.

Baltimore has scored only 20 runs through seven games, and just three over the last three contests. Adam Jones(notes) (.233), Nick Markakis(notes) (.143) and Tejada (.207) are off to poor starts, and manager Dave Trembley isn’t ruling out changes this early in the season.

“Yeah, I may do something, maybe just to show a different look,” he said.

The Orioles will give the ball to promising rookie Brian Matusz(notes) (1-0, 3.60), who owns the team’s only win.

The left-hander struggled early opposite Niemann on Thursday, walking a career-high five through 3 1-3 before settling down and getting the win by yielding two runs and two hits with seven strikeouts in five innings.

“That’s it in a nutshell,” Trembley said. “This is his first full year in the big leagues, but he showed what he’s made of. He can make adjustments on the fly. A lot of young guys aren’t able to do that.”

Matusz has won both of his starts against Tampa Bay, posting a 5.23 ERA with 14 strikeouts in 10 1-3 innings.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Niemann TB vs. B. Matusz Bal
12-8 Record 10-12
4.39 ERA 4.30
131 K 143
61 BB 63
1.26 WHIP 1.34


Tuesday, Apr 13