Orioles-Rays Preview

The Associated Press

Jeremy Hellickson can thank the Tampa Bay Rays' offense for his win-loss record being as good as it is, with the last time he faced the Baltimore Orioles being a perfect example.

Given the lineup's recent struggles, though, he may have to pitch more effectively as he faces the Orioles again Saturday at Tropicana Field.

Hellickson (3-2, 5.59 ERA) hasn't lost since April 25, but he's posted a 6.54 ERA in seven starts following that defeat. However, he's received 9.28 runs of support per game in that stretch.

The right-hander gave up three runs in five innings of an 11-3 win over Cleveland on Sunday.

"They're scoring a lot of runs and making (my job) a lot easier," Hellickson told the team's official website.

He was the beneficiary of yet another high-scoring performance the last time he pitched against the Orioles on May 17, picking up a 12-10 victory despite giving up a career worst-tying eight runs in 7 2-3 innings.

Hellickson became the first pitcher to allow that many runs and record a victory since the New York Yankees' Andy Pettitte on Sept. 29, 2007 - also versus Baltimore. Hellickson had posted a 2.52 ERA in his previous 12 starts against the Orioles.

Since his last start, Tampa Bay (33-27) has gone 2-2 while totaling eight runs. The Rays got a two-run homer from Desmond Jennings in the seventh inning to beat Baltimore 2-1 in the series opener Friday.

Manager Joe Maddon was more impressed with the solid work of starter Chris Archer. Tampa Bay ranks in the bottom third of the major leagues with a 4.25 ERA.

''That's what we're supposed to look like. We're supposed to pitch well, hope to get a timely hit and play some defense,'' Maddon said. ''Listen. I'm not begrudging the offense. I'll take it. But long-term for us to win and get back to the playoffs, win the World Series, we have to pitch like that.''

The Orioles (34-27) finished with a season-low two hits, with their run coming on a Manny Machado RBI single in the third. They had scored fewer than three runs once in their previous 17 contests.

Nick Markakis, who missed the last two games to attend his grandmother's funeral, went 0 for 4 as his six-game hitting streak versus the Rays was snapped.

"You have two good teams that played a close game and pitched well on both sides,'' manager Buck Showalter said. ''A small margin of error. They pitched just a tad better.''

Baltimore will look to get back on track as it sends Kevin Gausman to the mound Saturday.

Gausman (0-2, 7.20 ERA), the organization's No. 2 prospect according to MLB.com, is coming off his best start since being recalled May 23, allowing one run in six innings of Baltimore's 4-2 win over Detroit on Sunday.

The right-hander allowed 11 runs in nine innings while losing his first two starts.

"I felt comfortable (Sunday)," Gausman said. "I felt it was the most polished and calm I've been out there since I've been up here.I was just comfortable with my mechanics and all that."

The Orioles have lost four straight meetings with the Rays, though the teams have split the last eight matchups in St. Petersburg.

What to Read Next