The Rays are 14-22 since June 11, the last time they were in first place in the division, and are coming off a series loss to the Mariners at Tampa Bay. With a nine-game road trip beginning Tuesday, the Rays will turn to right-hander Jeremy Hellickson as they try to reverse their losing trend.
The Rays will play the Orioles, Angels and A's on the road trip, all of whom are competing for the two AL Wild Card spots. Hellickson knows how important it is to win these key head-to-head matchups.
"This road trip, we'll be playing teams that are right there with us, so this will be a big trip for us, and it starts Tuesday," Hellickson said.
The Orioles will call on left-hander Wei-Yin Chen on Tuesday. Chen has established himself as one of the Orioles most consistent pitchers in his rookie year and is 8-5 with a 3.80 ERA.
Three of Chen's four starts in July have been quality starts. Manager Buck Showalter said he has been pleased with the way Chen has pitched lately.
"You can only do what you can do," Showalter said. "Starting pitcher, probably the least thing he controls is the [win]. You can't control the defense, you can't control the runs scored. But if you're consistent getting deep into games, you're going to win your share."
Rays: Upton heating up in July
Center fielder B.J. Upton got off to a poor start this season but has begun to turn his season around in July. He is hitting .261 with four home runs this month, a marked improvement on his .243 average with five home runs in the first three months of the season. Upton's recent surge has him just one home run shy of 100 in his career. If Upton hits his 100th home run before his 28th birthday on Aug. 21, he will become the eighth player in Major League history to hit 100 home runs and steal 200 bases before turning 28.
Orioles: Pineiro to have surgery
Pitcher Joel Pineiro will have surgery on Tuesday to repair a SLAP tear. SLAP stands for "superior labral tear from anterior to posterior." Showalter was not sure what kind of timetable the right-hander was on for a return from the injury. Pineiro's rotator cuff will determine the length of recovery.
Perhaps re-energized by his return to Cleveland, where he spent the first 12 years of his career, Jim Thome hit two home runs this weekend against the Indians. They were Thome's first home runs since being traded to the Orioles on June 30. Since the trade, Thome is hitting .271 (16-for-59) with five extra-base hits.
Hellickson has given up six home runs in eight games against the Orioles in his three-year career. Outfielders Adam Jones and Nick Markakis have two home runs each off the 25-year old right-hander.