MLB Predictions 2012: Tampa Bay Rays vs. Baltimore Orioles

The Tampa Bay Rays (77-63) and Baltimore Orioles (78-62) open up a three-game American League East series on Tuesday night at Camden Yards, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 ET

Tampa Bay Rays at Baltimore Orioles

The Baltimore Orioles will need to fill the void that OF Nick Markakis has left at the top of the lineup

Tampa Bay begins a six-game road trip against one of the teams its battling for a playoff spot, as the club looks to remain hot after winning six of its last eight games.  The Rays have continually be led by their pitching staff, compiling a 3.22 ERA, which is the lowest mark in the majors.  “We’ve been pitching pretty well lately,” commented Rays pitcher James Shields.  The division rivals have split 12 games during this 2012 campaign.  Tampa Bay is 31-23 versus division opponents this year, with the “under” going 28-22 in that spot.

Rays starting pitcher Matt Moore (10-9, 3.66 ERA) has watched the club drop his last three efforts, with the offense providing him just eight runs of support in that span.  The left-hander is 3-4 with a 3.95 ERA in 11 road outings, issuing 34 walks and striking out 65 batters in 66 combined frames.  In four career games (three starts) versus the Orioles, Moore has compiled a 2-1 record and 2.12 ERA, with opposing hitters batting .286 against him.

Baltimore has alternated wins and losses over its last six games, coming off a 13-3 setback at home to the New York Yankees.  The Orioles have also managed to go “over” the total in six straight contests.  The club managed to split its recent four-game series against the Bronx Bombers, which ended the season series in a 9-9 tie.  “I’m proud of the way our guys competed against them,” stated Orioles manager Buck Showalter.  Offensively, the team will try to fill the void of outfielder Nick Markakis going out with a broken left thumb, as he was hitting .335 when batting leadoff this year.  Baltimore is 11-4 when coming off an off day this year.

Orioles starting pitcher Jason Hammel (8-6, 3.46 ERA) will be making just his second start since July 13 due to undergoing arthroscopic surgery on this right knee, as he failed to earn a decision in a 10-6 home win over the New York Yankees five days ago.  The right-hander is 4-2 with a 3.51 ERA in nine home games, issuing 19 walks and striking out 49 batters in 51.1 frames.  Hammel will be facing the Rays for the first time in his career.

Sports bettors will likely back the Orioles due to their 14-3 record in their last 17 home games against left-handed starters, while the Rays are 0-5 in Moore’s last five starts as a road favorite of -110 to -150.

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