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5


American League Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, September 20th (All times Eastern)

Baltimore Orioles (81-71) at Tampa Bay Rays (83-69), 7:10 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Baltimore - Jason Hammel (7-8, 5.12) Tampa Bay - David Price (8-8, 3.42)

(Sports Network) - The Baltimore Orioles try to take matters into their own hands this weekend, as they play the first of four games against the American League wild card-leading Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.

Baltimore enters this set two games back of both the Rays and Texas Rangers for the two wild card spots.

"I think we know what's going on with the Rays, and the fact that there's another wild card team out there makes things more interesting," Orioles first baseman Chris Davis said. "This is definitely what they wanted when they threw in another wild card. But we just have to go out there every day and focus on the nine innings in front of us and that's helped us the last few days, just knowing we have to go out there and focus on nine innings."

The Orioles helped themselves this week by taking two of three from the AL East-leading Boston Red Sox. However, they were denied a sweep on Thursday, falling, 3-1, to the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

"Who cares about this getting two out of three?" said Baltimore outfielder Adam Jones. "At this point in time, winning the series means nothing. We need wins. 'Good job getting the series' if this was June, but it's September. We need wins."

Chris Tillman (16-7) gave up three runs, seven hits and two walks in seven innings, striking out eight.

"That's the way these games go at the end of the season," Tillman said. "You have to be on top of it from the get-go all the way through. I made some mistakes and they were big."

Baltimore, which is 4-2 on a 10-game road trip, will turn to righty Jason Hammel, who has lost his last six decisions. Hammel did not get a decision on Friday in Toronto in his first start since the All-Star break, as he allowed three runs in five innings of a 5-3 win.

"I'm healthy. I feel good. I still feel like my arm can get stronger," said Hammel, who missed time with soreness in his right forearm. "I really didn't have too much of a building process to get back here. It's just nice to be pitching again and be able to get through five innings with 60-some pitches. I obviously wanted to go deeper, but they wanted to be smart about it."

Hammel is 0-2 with a 7.15 ERA in last two starts against the Rays.

Tampa, meanwhile, counters with lefty David Price, who is 8-8 with a 3.42 ERA. Price has lost his last three decisions and did not get a decision on Monday in Minnesota, as he allowed two runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings of his team's 6-4 loss.

"I feel good. My body feels very good right now," Price said. "I've had a good week of work leading up to [Friday]. Baltimore is a very tough team for me. They're playing for a chance to play in October. There's a lot on the line. They're going to play hard like they always do. It's going to be a tough series for us."

Price has dominated the Orioles of late, posting a 3-0 mark to go along with a 2.15 ERA in his last seven starts against them.

Tampa split a four-game set with the Rangers this week and fell to the wild card co-leaders, 8-2, on Thursday. Matt Moore (15-4) lasted only four frames, allowing six runs -- five earned -- on seven hits. He struck out six and walked one in his first loss since June 14.

Still, the Rays have won five of their last eight.

Tampa is 9-6 against the Orioles this season.

09/20 10:58:18 ET