MLB: Rays look for answers against surging Orioles

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The Tampa Bay Rays are back in the same situation they were in last weekend — trying to find something that works against the Baltimore Orioles.

The Orioles have won the first two games of the four-game series going into Sunday afternoon’s matchup in St. Petersburg, Fla.

“We know how talented that group is over there,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.

Baltimore cranked out a 5-0 victory Saturday, using a combined two-hitter among three pitchers.

Gunnar Henderson hit his 20th home run of the season for the Orioles, who have a power-laden lineup and have won seven of their past 10 games.

“I think it’s a testament to all of us getting more experience in the big leagues,” Henderson said. “We’re putting together some good at-bats, and obviously the power is coming with it.”

Yandy Diaz was the only Tampa Bay player to reach base Saturday. He singled in the first and ninth innings. The Rays struck out 14 times.

“We’ve been pitched tough,” Cash said. “This offense, no doubt, is capable of more. We just got to get it going, somehow. We have to have some better at-bats and put some more pressure on pitchers.”

After a victory over Baltimore last Sunday sparked a three-game winning streak, the Rays have dropped back-to-back games.

“I feel like the pieces are going to come together,” said Tampa Bay’s Taj Bradley, who was Saturday’s losing pitcher. “I trust the team enough to know we’re going to get the job done.”

Rays right-hander Zack Littell (2-3, 3.56 ERA) will be Tampa Bay’s starting pitcher for the second consecutive Sunday vs. Baltimore.

Littell made it through six innings last week while surrendering three runs and 11 hits. The Rays won 4-3, and Henderson hit a first-inning homer off of Littell.

In four career games, including two starts, against the Orioles, Littell holds a 3.29 ERA without a decision.

The Orioles have right-hander Grayson Rodriguez (6-2, 3.28) lined up as their starter for Sunday. He’ll try to build off his season-long 6 2/3 innings Monday in a 7-2 victory over Toronto. His only notable blemish that night was Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s solo home run in the fourth inning.

Rodriguez’s past two victories have come in road games. As a rookie last year, he faced the Rays three times and went 2-0, giving up four runs in 19 1/3 innings.

Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said he had limited availability among some of the Baltimore relievers Saturday, figuring he wasn’t going to use Jacob Webb or Yennier Cano. So using only two relievers Saturday was a blessing for the team.

The Orioles, who are 15-6 against AL East opponents this year, might be limited with lineup options, barring a roster move. Outfielder Kyle Stowers left Saturday’s game in the sixth inning because of wrist soreness.

–Field Level Media

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