While the Tampa Bay Rays maintain their high expectations for this season, the Baltimore Orioles are hoping some second-half success will bode well for the future.
The Rays will look to win back-to-back contests for the first time since the All-Star break when they play the rubber match of a three-game series against the Orioles on Wednesday at St. Petersburg, Fla.
Tampa Bay has alternated losses and wins for six games since winning six straight from July 4-10. The Rays bounced back from a 6-1 series-opening loss to Baltimore on Monday, rolling to a 9-3 victory on Tuesday.
Backup catcher Francisco Mejia homered and had a career-high five RBIs while Randy Arozarena also homered and posted his second straight two-hit game after going 4-for-41 in his previous 13 contests. Tampa Bay overcame a season-high four errors Tuesday by scoring four times in the eighth inning to break open what was a 5-3 contest.
"For us, we've got to continue doing our thing," Tampa Bay's Austin Meadows told MLB Network. "When we're clicking on all cylinders, we're a tough team to beat."
Michael Wacha (2-2, 5.14 ERA) is slated to take the ball for the Rays on Wednesday. The right-hander allowed four runs -- three off two homers -- and five hits over four innings in a no-decision at Atlanta on Friday.
Wacha has allowed one run and five hits while striking out 13 over 11 innings while going 1-0 in his past two home starts.
Against the visiting Orioles on June 13, Wacha yielded a run over a two-inning start.
Baltimore's Cedric Mullins is 2-for-3 with a double and a triple off Wacha. Anthony Santander is hitless in three at-bats vs. Wacha, but with two doubles on Tuesday, he is 4-for-13 in his past four contests.
The Orioles totaled 19 runs during a three-game winning streak that ended Tuesday, when they struck out 15 times and went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
Despite losing to the Rays for the 13th time in 15 meetings, Baltimore is on the rise since the All-Star break, boosting the club's collective confidence.
"The second half of the season is huge, especially going into next year," Baltimore's Trey Mancini told MLB Network. "It's time for us to start putting wins together."
Scheduled Baltimore starter Keegan Akin (0-5, 8.19 ERA) has allowed 36 runs, 47 hits and 16 walks over 28 1/3 innings over his past seven outings, six of them starts. He yielded six runs and eight hits in just three innings during a 9-2 loss at Kansas City on Friday.
"I got some things to work on," Akin said. "Just execute pitches better. I feel like the strikes are there, just got to execute and command the ball a little better."
Akin's current rough stretch began at Tampa Bay on June 11, when he allowed a two-run homer to Brandon Lowe, one other run and walked three over four innings of a 4-2 defeat. He also gave up two runs and five hits in three innings of relief during the Orioles' 10-1 loss to the Rays on May 20, although he wasn't involved in the decision.
Arozarena is 2-for-3 against Akin.
--Field Level Media