TAMPA BAY RAYS NOTES:
RAY REPORT — Tampa Bay continues a seven-day, seven-game road trip against a pair of division-leading clubs in Minnesota and Baltimore tonight at Oriole Park…the Rays are 28-14 in their last 42 games, including wins in five of six, seven of nine, 12 of 17, 16 of 22, 18 of 25 and 21 of their last 30, following an MLB-worst 5-15 (.250) stretch from 7/1-26… the Rays currently occupy the first AL Wild Card spot, leading Texas by 8.0 games and Seattle by 8.5 games…with 15 games remaining, Tampa Bay is 2.0 games behind first-place Baltimore in the AL East. Ê The Rays 31-16 (.660) record in series openers is tied with the Dodgers (31-16) for third best in the majors behind the Braves (33-14, .702) and Orioles (32-15, .681). Tampa Bay’s magic number to clinch the ninth postseason berth in club history is five…the Rays are seeking their fifth consecutive postseason appearance. The Rays 18-7 (.720) record since 8/16 leads the majors, outpacing the Braves (19- 8, .704)…their 28-14 (.667) mark since 7/28 is second best in the AL behind the Orioles (29-14, .674). Tonight’s contest marks the Rays 14th of 17 consecutive games to open September before their first of three off days during the month (9/18, 9/25, 9/28). The Rays remaining opponents have a combined winning pct. of .546, the third-highest mark in the majors behind the Nationals (.572) and Blue Jays (.548).
RECENT TRANSACTIONS — Earlier today, the Rays activated OF Manuel Margot from the 10-day injured list and optioned INF Vidal Bruján to Triple-A Durham…Margot, who missed 26 games during his stint on the injured list, went 5-for-6 (.833) with 5 RBI over his two-game rehab assignment with Durham.
BATTLE FOR THE EAST — Per Elias, this marks the third season in club history in which the Rays faced a division rival at least 140 games into the season with both clubs within 2.0 games of the top spot in the division…it also occurred in 2008 (BOS: 9/8-10 & 9/15-17) and 2010 (NYY: 9/13-15, 9/20-23)…with the Orioles holding a 6-3 lead in the season series, the Rays would need to sweep this series in order to gain a tiebreaker over Baltimore… Tampa Bay has recorded one sweep in a four-game set this season, going 4-0 against Boston from 4/10-13 at Tropicana Field as part of its modern era-record-tying 13-game winning streak to open the season. The Rays are seeking their fifth AL East division title in club history, including their first since nabbing back-to-back division crowns in 2020-21…their four division titles since 2008 are tied with the Red Sox for second most among AL East clubs, behind the Yankees (5)…the only AL clubs with more division titles in that span are the Astros (5) and Yankees.
JUST WIN, BABY — Yesterday’s 5-4 win at Minnesota secured the ninth 90+ win season in Rays history, including the fourth since Kevin Cash took the helm in 2015 also: 2018-19, 2021)…excluding the 60-game 2020 season, during which they produced a .667 winning percentage (which equates to a 108-win pace over a 162-game campaign), the Rays have recorded at least 90 victories in four of the last five seasons since 2018… Tampa Bay’s nine 90+ win campaigns since becoming the Rays in 2008 are tied with the Yankees for the second most in the majors during that timeframe, trailing only the Dodgers (10)…the Cardinals and Red Sox (8 each) are the next closest teams. he Rays needed 147 games to reach the 90-win mark, the second fewest in club history behind the 2021 club (145G). The Rays are one of six clubs to reach the postseason each season from 2019-22, joining the Astros, Braves, Cardinals, Dodgers and Yankees…they are looking to become the eighth team in the Wild Card era (since 1995) to make the postseason in five consecutive seasons at least once, joining the Braves (2x: 1995-2005; 2018-23), Yankees (2x: 1995-2007; 2017-22), Astros (2017-22), Cardinals (2011-15), Guardians (1995-99) and Phillies (2007-11).
A ‘PEN-CHANT FOR SUCCESS — The Rays bullpen has not allowed an earned run in its last 30.0 innings dating back to the ninth frame on 9/4 vs. Boston, the second-longest such streak in club history…the longest was a 37.2-inning run from 9/22/10-4/1/11 (Elias)… Rays relievers are riding a 13.1 scoreless inning streak on the heels of a 19.0 scoreless inning streak from 8/25-9/2…the Rays relief corps has produced an MLB-leading 0.94 ERA (57.1IP, 6ER) over the club’s last 18 games since 8/26, ahead of the Dodgers (2.51). The Rays 64-7 (.901) record when leading after six innings is seventh best in the majors, while their 67-3 (.957) mark when leading after seven is second best behind the Red Sox (61-2, .968). Robert Stephenson has an 11.0 scoreless inning streak, striking out 21 of the 36 batters he has faced (58.3%) while holding opponents to a 2-for-35 (.057) clip. Jake Diekman has also strung together an 11.0 scoreless inning streak…Shawn Armstrong has not permitted an earned run in his last 12 outings spanning 16.1 innings, posting a 0.67 WHIP over that stretch.
CLOSE CALLS — Each of Tampa Bay’s last nine games have been decided by three or fewer runs, its longest streak since 6/14-30, 2022 (15G)…the Rays are 7-2 over that span, including 1-2 in one-run games…on the season, their 30-34 (.469) mark in games decided by two or fewer runs is fifth worst in the AL/10th worst in the majors, while their 60-23 (.723) record in games decided by 3+ runs leads MLB, ahead of the Braves (58-24, .707).
PITCHING PROWESS — The Rays have allowed four or fewer earned runs in nine consecutive games, their longest streak since a 10-game run from 8/28-9/9, 2022…Tampa Bay’s pitching staff has posted a 2.96 ERA (82.0IP, 27ER) over that span.
THUNDER AND LIGHTNING — The Rays pace the AL in stolen bases (154SB) while their 210 homers are tied with the Angels for the AL lead…they are attempting to become the fifth team to lead the AL in both categories, joining New York-AL in 1931, 1933 and 1938 and Cleveland in 1995 (Elias)…the 209 homers are their most through 147 games in club history, outpacing the 2017 club (207HR), while the 154 steals are third most behind the 2009 (177SB) and 2010 Rays (160SB)…they are 18 homers shy of matching the 2017 Rays (228HR) for the club single-season record.
BIRDLAND SHOWDOWN — The Rays and Orioles conclude a 13-game season series with a four-game set in Baltimore…since winning 27 of 29 meetings with the Orioles from 8/25/20-4/10/22, including a club-record 15-game winning streak from 7/10/21- 4/10/22, the Rays are 10-15 (.400) over the last 25 matchups (4-9 on the road) — it marks their second lowest winning percentage against any AL opponent during that timeframe (since 5/10/22), ahead of only Houston (4-8, .333). Tampa Bay has won the season series in each of the previous six seasons, going 71-43 (.623) against Baltimore since the beginning of 2017…the Rays would need to win each of the next four games to avoid their first season series loss to the Orioles since 2016 (13-6).
TONIGHT’S STARTER: RHP AARON CIVALE (7-3, 2.96)
TONIGHT’S START — The right-hander makes his eighth start with the Rays after being acquired from Cleveland at the trade deadline on 7/31… marks his 21st start of the season, including his 11th on the road…has gone 2-1 with a 4.29 ERA (35.2IP, 17ER) in his first seven starts with Tampa Bay; the Rays are 5-2 in those games…ranks sixth in the AL with a 2.84 ERA (73.0IP, 23ER) since the beginning of July…has a 5.2 pct. walk rate since joining the Rays compared to 7.9 pct. across 13 starts with Cleveland.
LAST TIME OUT — Civale did not factor into the decision on 9/9 vs. Seattle…he worked 5.0 innings, allowing four runs on four hits and three walks with three strikeouts. Surrendered three runs in the first inning and one run in the second frame, but worked 3.0 scoreless frames to close the outing. Civale has allowed three or more earned runs in consecutive starts for the first time since a two-start stretch from 6/26-7/2, 2022.
BOH’S AND O’S — Civale is 2-0 in two career starts against Baltimore, but he has produced a 7.36 ERA (11.0IP, 9ER) while allowing opposing hitters to bat .340 (16-for-47) in those games, which came within a two-week span from 6/5-16, 2021…he was provided with 12.27 runs of support per 9.0 IP in those outings. In his lone career start at Baltimore on 6/5/21, he earned the win after tossing 6.0 innings, allowing four runs on seven hits with zero walks and four strikeouts. Has made 12 career starts against the AL East, going 5-5 with a 5.48 ERA (64.0IP, 39ER)…in two starts this season, both against Boston, he is 1-0 with a 4.09 ERA (11.0IP, 5ER).
ROAD DOG — Civale’s 2.03 ERA (53.1IP, 12ER) on the road this season is the lowest mark in the majors (min. 45.0IP), ahead of SD Blake Snell (2.13) and NYY Gerrit Cole (2.51)…he has allowed three or fewer runs in 15 of his last 16 road starts, including each of his last 12 dating back to 9/20/22, the longest streak of his career and the third-longest active streak in the majors behind MIL Wade Miley and Snell (14GS each)…during the streak, Civale has turned in a 2.27 ERA (63.1IP, 16ER).
BUMP IN THE ROAD — Civale has posted a 6.10 ERA (10.1IP, 7ER) with six walks over his last two starts…in 11 outings from 7/2-8/29, Civale went 5-1 with a 2.30 ERA (62.2IP, 16ER) and 50 strikeouts against nine walks…his 2.30 ERA during that span was third lowest in the majors behind SD Blake Snell (1.74) and BAL Kyle Bradish (2.26). Prior to his last start on 9/9 vs. Seattle, he had yielded three or fewer earned runs in each of his 12 previous starts, the longest such streak of his career (prev. 9GS – 6/22-9/18, 2019). He has issued 3+ walks in each of his last two starts, matching the longest such streak of his career (4x, last: 6/14-20, 2023).
ODDS AND ENDS — When Civale’s pitch count sits between 1-30, he has held opponents to a .206 (25-for-121) average, allowing four doubles and one home run…from pitches 31-60, opponents are batting .247 (38-for-154) with five doubles and five home runs…opponents in the eighth and ninth spots in the batting order have combined to hit .284 (23-for-81) against him compared to .207 (50-for-242) from the two through six holes…has posted a .193 (31-for-161) opponent average the first time through the lineup compared to .272 (46-for-169) the second time through. Opposing hitters are batting .187 (17-for-91) with a .473 OPS against Civale with runners in scoring position, the fourth-lowest opp. OPS in the AL with RISP (min. 75BF) behind BAL Félix Bautista (.340), MIN Jhoan Duran (.435) and BAL Yennier Cano (.464).
3 IS THE MAGIC NUMBER — For his career, Civale is 29-1 with a 3.08 ERA (286.2IP, 98ER) in games when he receives three or more runs of support… he has a 2-23 record with a 4.98 ERA (179.0IP, 99ER) in games receiving two or fewer runs of support…Civale has received 5.55 runs of support per 9.0 IP in his first five starts with the Rays compared to 4.56 over 13 starts with the Guardians.
SUMMER HEAT WAVE — Civale was one of the AL’s top pitchers in July, going 3-0 with a 1.45 ERA (27.IP, 6ER) in six starts…he ranked among MLB leaders during the month (min. 30.0IP) in ERA (2nd), opp. OPS (2nd, .458), opp. batting average (3rd, .176) and WHIP (3rd, 0.80)…it marked his lowest ERA in any month of his career (min. 2GS), ahead of August 2019 (2.35)… allowed two or fewer runs in each start and yielded only one home run.
BALTIMORE ORIOLES NOTES:
SOMETHING IN THE ORANGE: The O’s have won eight of their last 11 games, 10 of 15, 14 of 20, 17 of 24, 20 of 29, 25 of 37, 28 of 41, 34 of 51, and 42 of 61…Baltimore (3x) and Atlanta (4x) are the only teams with three winning streaks of at least seven games this season…The Birds have won seven of their last eight series, eight of 10 series, and 11 of 14 series…At 91-54 (.628), the Orioles have the best record in the AL and second-best in MLB (see box at right)…The Birds are 43-22 (.662) since the start of July, the best record in MLB during that time…The team is 153-103 (.598) since June 2022, the second-best record in the AL and fourth-best in MLB during that time. The O’s hold a 2.0-game lead over the Rays in the AL East. Baltimore’s magic number to clinch a Postseason berth is four.
SWEEPLESS IN BALTIMORE: The Orioles have gone 86 consecutive series of at least two decisions (no ties) without being swept…According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that is the fourth-longest streak in MLB history, trailing the 1942-44 St. Louis Cardinals (124), 1906-09 Chicago Cubs (115), and 1903-05 New York Giants (105)…Baltimore’s current streak is the longest in O’s history, ahead of 46 consecutive sweepless series from 1971-72…The Birds have not been swept in a series of at least two games since May 13-15, 2022 at Detroit (0-3), and not at home in a series of at least two games since August 27-29, 2021 vs. Tampa Bay (0-3).
FEELS GOOD TO BE HOME: The Orioles continue their seven-game homestand tonight with the first of four games against the Rays…The Birds dropped two of three against the Cardinals to begin the homestand. The O’s are 43-28 (.606) at Oriole Park, the second-best home record in the AL behind only Tampa Bay at 50-25 (.667), and fourth-best in MLB.
BEASTS OF THE EAST: The Orioles and Rays begin a four-game set tonight, the final regular-season meeting between the AL East rivals…The Birds currently hold a 2.0-game lead over the Rays in the division…The O’s are 6-3 against the Tampa this year and need one more win to clinch the season series victory and head-to-head tiebreaker…Baltimore took two out of three games against Tampa Bay at Oriole Park from May 8-10, split a two-game series at the Trop from June 20-21, and took three out of four at the Trop from July 20-23…The O’s went 9-10 against Tampa Bay last year, 7-3 at Oriole Park and 2-7 at Tropicana Field…The season series was not decided until the 19th and final game on August 14 in Tampa Bay.
BIG TIME RUTSCH: Adley Rutschman has reached safely 229 times (144 H, 83 BB, 2 HBP), the most by a primary catcher since Milwaukee’s Yasmani Grandal reached safely 240 times (126 H, 109 BB, 5 HBP) in 2019, per STATS…His times on base this are the second-most by a primary catcher in O’s history (since 1954), trailing only Javy López (236 in 2004)…The 83 walks are the second-most by an O’s primary catcher behind Mickey Tettleton (106 in 1990).
ROSTER MOVES: The Orioles today selected the contract of outfielder Heston Kjerstad (KERR-stad) from Triple-A Norfolk…He will wear No. 13 and his first appearance will be his Major League debut…The Orioles also recalled right-handed pitcher Bryan Baker from Norfolk…In corresponding moves, outfielder Ryan McKenna and left-handed pitcher Nick Vespi were optioned to the Tides…To make room for Kjerstad on the 40-man roster, infielder/outfielder Terrin Vavra was recalled from Norfolk and placed on the 60-day Injured List with a strained right shoulder…The Orioles’ 40-man roster currently has 40 players.
WELCOME TO THE SHOW: Heston Kjerstad would become the sixth Orioles player to make his MLB debut this season, joining right-handed pitcher Grayson Rodriguez on April 5 at Texas, infielder Joey Ortiz on April 27 at Detroit, infielder Jordan Westburg on June 26 vs. Cincinnati, right-handed pitcher Chris Vallimont on July 3 at New York-AL, and outfielder Colton Cowser on July 5 at New York-AL…Kjerstad is currently ranked as the No. 3 Orioles prospect and No. 24 overall prospect by MLB Pipeline. Kjerstad, 24, has slashed .303/.376/.528 (145-for-479) with 29 doubles, eight triples, 21 home runs, 87 runs scored, 55 RBI, 42 walks, five stolen bases, and a .904 OPS in 122 combined games between Triple-A Norfolk and Double-A Bowie this season. He began the season with the Baysox, where he posted a .310/.383/.576 (57-for-184) slash line with 10 doubles, three triples, 11 home runs, 30 runs scored, 23 RBI, 15 walks, three stolen bases, and a .959 OPS in 46 games, and was named the Orioles Minor League Player of the Month for April. Kjerstad was promoted to the Tides on June 5, and has since slashed .298/.371/.498 (88-for-295) with 19 doubles, five triples, 10 home runs, 57 runs scored, 32 RBI, 27 walks, two stolen bases, and an .869 OPS in 76 games. He participated in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at T-Mobile Park in Seattle, making the start in right field and batting third. Kjerstad made his professional debut in 2022 and was named an Organization AllStar by MiLB.com; following the season, he played for the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League and was named an AFL Rising Star and AFL Most Valuable Player. Selected by the Orioles with the second overall pick of the 2020 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Arkansas.
STARTING PITCHER – #39 KYLE BRADISH RHP
QUICK HITS: Scheduled to make 27th start of the season, 11th at home, and fifth career start against the Rays tonight…Has won each of his last four starts, the longest active streak in MLB…Entering tonight’s game, Bradish ranks among qualified AL starting pitchers in opponent slugging percentage (3rd, .345), ERA (3rd, 3.03), batting average (3rd, .223), WHIP (6th, 1.09), and on-base percentage (6th, .284)…Made 23 starts in his rookie season with the Orioles in 2022…Went 4-7 with a 4.90 ERA (64 ER/117.2 IP) with 111 strikeouts to 46 walks…Was one of 13 O’s players (7 pitchers) to make their debut in 2022…Started on the bump for Adley Rutschman’s debut on May 21 vs. Tampa Bay…Tossed 16.0 consecutive scoreless innings across four starts from August 26 to September 6…Acquired by the Orioles along with RHP Kyle Brnovich, RHP Zach Peek, and RHP Isaac Mattson from Los Angeles-AL in exchange for RHP Dylan Bundy on December 4, 2019…Originally drafted by the Angels in the fourth round of the 2018 First-Year Player Draft out of New Mexico State…Teammates at NMSU with INF Joey
LAST TIME OUT: Secured his 11th victory of the season in his last outing on September 8 at Boston…Allowed two runs on four hits (1 HR) and nine strikeouts in 6.0 innings… Marked his fifth straight quality start, the longest such streak of his career, and 16th on the season…Has permitted two earned runs-or-fewer in each of his last six assignments since August 6, including two scoreless starts…Threw 86 pitches, 56 strikes.
RAYS OF SUNSHINE: Is slated to make his fifth career start against the Rays…Is 1-2 with a 6.53 ERA (15 ER/20.2 IP) in four career outings against the AL East foe but has gone 1-1 with a 3.27 ERA (4 ER/11.0 IP) in two outings against the Rays this season… Dealt the loss in his last assignment against Tampa Bay on July 21, 2023 at Tropicana Field…Allowed two runs on six hits (1 HR) with one walk and five strikeouts in 6.0 innings…Threw 93 pitches, 61 strikes.
KEEP YOUR ENEMIES CLOSE: Making his 23rd career start against the AL East…Owns a 4-10 record with a 6.00 ERA (72 ER/108.0 IP) and seven quality starts in his 22 career starting assignments against the division but has pitched to a 4-3 record with a 4.26 ERA (21 ER/44.1 IP) and five quality starts in eight outings against the AL East this season.
HIGH QUALITY: Bradish has logged five straight quality starts since August 6, the longest such streak of his career…The last longer streak by an Oriole was Alex Cobb’s six-gamer from July 26 to August 24, 2018…Bradish’s 16 quality starts on the year are tied for the team lead (Gibson) and are the most by an O’s hurler since Dylan Bundy posted 19 such performances in 2017.
HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE: Bradish has surrendered two earned runs-or-fewer in each of his last nine home starts since May 12, the longest such streak by an O’s hurler in the 31-year history of Camden Yards and longest since Steve Stone’s 11-gamer from May 7 to August 14, 1979…Has pitched to a 4-3 record with a 2.26 ERA (15 ER/59.2 IP) and eight quality starts in his 10 outings at Oriole Park this season.
DAWG DAYS OF SUMMER: During the month of August, Bradish ranked among qualified AL starting pitchers in ERA (3rd, 2.12), batting average against (3rd, .189), OPS (4th, .548), K/9 (4th, 10.62), wins (T-4th, 3), slugging percentage (5th, .283), and strikeouts (8th, 35)… Surrendered three earned runs-or-fewer in each of his five outings in the month, including two scoreless starts.
PUTTING UP ZEROS: Bradish’s six scoreless starts this season lead the O’s and are tied for fifth-most in the AL entering today…The last O’s starter with more than six such outings in a season was Kevin Gausman, who logged seven scoreless starts in both 2016 and 2017.
LIMITING THE DAMAGE: Bradish has surrendered one or no home runs in 40 of 41 starts since June 13, 2022…In 33 straight starts from June 13, 2022 to July 26, 2023, he did not allow more than one homer, marking the third-longest active streak among MLB starting pitchers, and the longest by an O’s starter since Ubaldo Jiménez accomplished the feat in 36 straight starts from July 23, 2015 to September 10, 2016.