If the Orioles wanted to turn their season around and compete for a wildcard spot it had to start this week with their series against Tampa Bay. The Rays are one of a handful of teams that sit between the O’s and the elusive second wildcard spot, making this series even more important.

When you look at their track record, the Rays may have more upside to their season than the Orioles but they entered this week’s series on a four game losing streak. The O’s were able to take advantage of that in the first game but they could not keep the Rays down for long. Tampa Bay picked up two wins on Tuesday and Wednesday to take the series, pushing the Orioles back down once again.

The first six innings of game one featured a pitchers duel between Kevin Gausman and Blake Snell. In the end Snell was able to go one more inning than Gausman but he was also responsible for three runs. Gausman struck out eight in his six innings of work, giving up just five hits. The win marked Gausman’s second straight and seventh overall this season.

The O’s finished the night with five runs but for a majority of the game they only lead 1-0 thanks to a solo homer by Adam Jones in the third inning. It took the offense until the eighth inning to add their next three runs and finally get some breathing room for the pitching staff. Manny Machado had a two RBI single and Jonathan Schoop added another with a sacrifice fly.

The Rays offense came back to life in game two, scoring five runs in the second inning. This would end up being the only offense necessary as Tampa Bay went on to win 5-4. Jacob Faria continued to find success in his third career start against the O’s. The rookie pitcher threw 7.1 innings while giving up three runs and striking out five.

Down by two runs with five outs left the Orioles finally got into the Rays bullpen. Former Oriole Tommy Hunter completed the eighth inning but not before giving up two runs on an RBI single by Welington Castillo. The first of these two runs would end up being credited to Faria.

Castillo’s big hit cut the deficit to just one run but the Orioles offense was shut down by Alex Colome in the ninth. Colome’s 29th save of the season secured a 5-4 win and snapped the Rays five game losing streak.

The series finale was played on Wednesday afternoon and once again the Rays walked away with a win thanks to some timely offense. After Jonathan Schoop hit a solo home run in the fourth, the O’s offense was shutdown and failed to score again while the Rays put up five runs in the late innings.

Ubaldo Jimenez turned in a rare quality start, making the offenses performance even more disappointing. Jimenez pitched six innings while giving up just two runs. It was one of those games where Jimenez appeared to be in complete control. His nine strike outs mark a season high for the veteran pitcher.

Darren O’Day and Zach Britton pitched in relief but gave up three more runs. Outside of his save this past weekend, Britton has not been his usual self since returning from the disabled list. O’Day continues to have an up-and-down season as well, boosting his ERA to 4.79 after Wednesday’s game.

The Orioles will stay on the road this weekend as they prepare to take on the Rangers for the second time this month. When these teams met a few weeks ago, the O’s walked away with their first four game sweep since 2016. The series win was impressive enough to instill hope in some fans but that has since faded. With that being said ,the O’s could certainly use another sweep if they really plan on being contenders.

Image Credit: Baltimore Sun