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A massive four-game series will begin in Baltimore on Thursday night, as the Baltimore Orioles host the Tampa Bay Rays. Baltimore comes into this series with a two-game lead over the Rays in the American League East standings, with the winner of this series guaranteed to hold at least a share of the division lead coming out of the weekend. That means the Orioles would love to at least split this series to hold the lead, while the Rays are coming out looking to win at least three of four.
The Tampa Bay Rays were the class of the AL East for much of this season, but they let that lead get away over the summer. Now, the Rays have a chance to move back into the lead in the division if they can snatch every game of this series from the Baltimore Orioles. To do that, they need to start with this series opener, where they hope a pitcher acquired at the trade deadline will help them get a win.
Aaron Civale came to the Rays from the Cleveland Guardians earlier this season, and has been solid for the Rays since doing so. Civale has a 7-3 record this season and a 2.96 ERA to go with it, going 2-1 since joining Tampa Bay. Here, he will need to remain on-point to help his team win in a game featuring an underrated starting pitching matchup at Camden Yards.
To help Civale do so, the offense of the Rays is going to need to provide him the run support needed to put him in a position to win this game. The offense of the Rays has put up five or more runs in four of its last five outings. Another game where they can hit that five-run threshold could be enough to help Tampa Bay win a second straight game and move to within a game of the AL East lead.
The Baltimore Orioles have been one of the great stories in baseball this season, rocketing to the top of the AL East after low expectations going into the season. But the Orioles have lost two games in a row coming into this series, and there are questions about how they are handling the pressure of being the top dogs in a competitive division. On Thursday, they will have the chance to silence their critics with a huge win at home.
Kyle Bradish is on the mound for the Orioles in this game, who has been a workhorse for the O’s for the duration of this season. Bradish is 11-6 on the year and has an ERA of 3.03 in his 145.2 innings of work. He may need to be great for the Orioles to have a chance to win this game, as he is pitching for a team whose offense has struggled in a big way over the last few games.
In Baltimore’s last two games, they have scored a combined two runs. They scored just two runs against Adam Wainwright and the St. Louis Cardinals in a 5-2 defeat on Tuesday, before being shut out by St. Louis on Wednesday. They simply must be more productive at the plate if they want to win the AL East and give themselves the best chance to make a deep run in the postseason.
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Jay Sanin is a sports bettor and writer from New York. He has been handicapping since the moment he was old enough to gamble legally, with his specialties being niche sports like the WNBA and XFL. He’s been told he has a voice for radio. He also has a face for radio.More info on Jay Sanin
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