BALTIMORE—It’s a matchup of the top two teams in the American League when the Orioles and Tampa Rays begin a three-game series on Monday night.
The Orioles (22-12) are trying to avoid their first three-game losing streak of the season. Tampa Bay (28-7) has won five of six.
“We know them pretty well, and they know us,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “They’re off to an unbelievable start. It’s a really, really good team. We just faced a really good team in Atlanta. I like the way we’re playing right now, and hopefully we play well this series.”
Before losing the last two games to the Braves, the Orioles had won 18 of 23, and they have series against some of baseball’s best teams coming up.
“It’s the beginning of May, and we have a long way to go,” Hyde said. “I’m just trying to win every series right now. I’m just trying to take it day-to-day. Whoever’s in front of us, we play. I like the start we’re off to. I’d like to try to stay as healthy as possible in the summer months and see where we are at the end.”
Tampa Bay tied a major league record with a 13-0 start, and since then, they’ve still played well, going 15-7.
“They’ve always had great pitching,” Hyde said. “And they continue to pitch extremely well. They continue to do a good job with their bullpen.
“Offensively this year, they are extremely dangerous. They do a lot of things really, really well. They’ve improved offensively, really the same guys. Those guys have gotten a lot better. They baserun well. They hit with power. They can match up because they have a really balanced lineup, so it’s tough to pitch against [them] because they can line change on you. They have a lot of really good players that complement each other well. It’s a tough lineup.”
The Orioles play Tampa Bay and the other American League East teams 13 times this year as opposed to 19 in previous years.
“I think any time you play against your division, they’re important games,” Hyde said. “Our division is really tough, and after tonight, we’ll play them 12 more times.”
The Orioles have played three games against the New York Yankees, six against the Boston Red Sox, but won’t face Toronto until May 19th.
“It’s different from years past when you play your division a lot early,” Hyde said. “I’d like to see how we stack up against them. They’re always really tough … and I hope we play well.”
The Orioles are following their longest road trip with their longest homestand.
“We were on the road for a while,” Hyde said. “It’s great to be back playing in front of our home fans. We’re going to be here for a while, a nice little homestand here. A 6-4 road trip, and now it’s nice to be home.”
Notes: On Wednesday, relievers Mychal Givens will pitch for Double-A Bowie at Harrisburg while Dillon Tate will pitch for Triple-A Norfolk at Jacksonville. Givens is on the 15-day injured list with a left knee injury and Tate is on the IL with a right elbow injury.
“We’re still talking it day-by-day and still continuing to evaluate how I’ve been feeling,” Givens said. “Right now, it’s been going well, in the right direction.”