Rays aim for three-game sweep of Orioles




The Tampa Bay Rays, one of baseball's hottest teams with eight wins in their past nine games, will try to complete a three-game sweep of the visiting Baltimore Orioles on Thursday night.

Tampa Bay crushed the Orioles 8-1 in the second game of the series Wednesday, banging out three homers and five doubles while getting a solid pitching performance from Yonny Chirinos, who came on after the opener. Chirinos threw five shutout innings, allowing just one hit.

The Rays have given up only three runs in the first two games of the series, and they have held the Orioles to three hits over the past 14 innings. Brandon Lowe, Ji-Man Choi and Yandy Diaz each homered in Wednesday's win while Avisail Garcia homered in the opener Tuesday.

Tampa Bay is now 14-4 after starting last year 4-13 and falling far behind in the American League East. The Rays believed they had the talent to make some noise this year, and that's what is happening so far.

"We knew coming into the season that we could be really good if we went out and executed the way we're capable of, and we have so far," outfielder Kevin Kiermaier told The Tampa Bay Times on Wednesday. "That's why our record is what it is."

The Orioles are rebuilding this season, and they've been up and down. But against the Tampa Bay staff the past two days, it's been all down for Baltimore on offense.

"That's a good staff," Orioles infielder Jonathan Villar told the media after the Wednesday loss. "They've got good pitchers on their team."

The Orioles again missed first baseman Chris Davis, out with an illness for a second straight day after starting to come out of his early-season funk over the weekend in Boston.

Rio Ruiz gave the Orioles their only run on Wednesday, a seventh-inning home run that merely cut Baltimore's deficit to 7-1. That blast was one of only three hits that Baltimore managed after getting held hitless over the last five innings Tuesday.

Trey Mancini is the only hitter in the Orioles' lineup batting over .300 at the moment. Yet even he had a rough day Wednesday, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts as his average slipped to .320.

Andrew Cashner, who will start Thursday for the Orioles, is looking for a fourth straight win after losing on Opening Day. He has a 3-1 record with a 5.31 ERA.

After falling to the New York Yankees in the season opener, Cashner has beaten the Toronto, Oakland A's and Boston Red Sox in his past three starts despite not going longer than six innings. He is 2-1 with a 4.13 career ERA against the Rays, including a 1-1 mark with a 4.00 ERA against them in 2018.

Hunter Wood will go as an opener for Rays in the series finale. Wood (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will be making his third appearance of the season for Tampa Bay. He fired three scoreless innings against the Chicago White Sox on April 8 and one scoreless frame against the Blue Jays on Sunday.

He is 0-0 with a 7.11 ERA in four career appearances (two starts) against the Orioles.

--Field Level Media

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