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American League Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, May 18th (All times Eastern)

Tampa Bay Rays (21-20) at Baltimore Orioles (23-18), 4:05 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Tampa Bay - Robert Hernandez (2-4, 4.43) Baltimore - Jair Jurrjens (0-0, 0.00)

(Sports Network) - Jair Jurrjens will make his Baltimore debut on Saturday when the Orioles host the Tampa Bay Rays in the middle test of a three-game series at Camden Yards..

Tampa Bay won Friday's opener, 12-10, as Kelly Johnson finished 3-for-5 with a three- run homer, four RBI and two runs scored in the slugfest. The Rays jumped out to a 12-4 lead and held off the Orioles' late rally to reward starter Jeremy Hellickson with the decision.

"I think it would have been horrific in baseball terms (had the Rays lost)," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "We've lost some huge leads. We have. But have bounced in a good way. That's the one part about baseball that's the most devastating within a group is to lose leads late, often. That's not good."

Baltimore, which has lost three in a row, held a 3-1 lead heading into the third but could not keep up as every Rays starter notched at least one base hit.

Jurrjens, meanwhile, will hope to have better success against the Rays as he makes his first major league start since July 22. In 2011, he went 13-6 with a 2.96 ERA and represented Atlanta in the All-Star game before suffering a right knee injury that cut his season short. However, the Braves sent him down to the minors after an 0-2 start last season. Jurrjens was recalled in June and went 3-2 with a 5.63 ERA in six starts.

The 27-year old right-hander signed a minor league deal with Baltimore over the winter and was given the call to start on Saturday to replace the injured Wei- Yin Chen. Jurrjens went 4-1 with a 3.14 ERA in eight starts in Triple-A this season.

"I've been just trying to get my stuff back together and just keep working, and trying to have fun again playing baseball," Jurrjens said. "I've been doing that, and have been working hard to try and get better."

Baltimore has given up 17 hits in each of its last two games and an average of 6.1 runs while losing five of its last seven. The Rays have won seven of their last nine games.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter shook things up on Friday with three players starting at a position for the first time this season. Yamaico Navarro played second base, Chris Dickerson was in left field, and Nate McLouth slotted in at designated hitter. Navarro went 2-for-4 with a triple in his first MLB action of the season. Dickerson improved his average on the year to .320 after hitting a three-run home run in Friday's loss.

Opposing Jurrjens for Tampa Bay will be the right-handed Robert Hernandez, who went six strong innings against the Padres on Sunday. Hernandez has thrown six or more innings in six of his last seven starts and carries a 2-4 record with a 4.43 ERA into this one.

Hernandez is 0-2 with a 5.25 ERA against Baltimore this season, but he will have plenty of run support of the Rays' offense continues its recent trend.

Evan Longoria extended his hitting streak to 11 games on Friday with two hits to bring his average to .419 during that span. Yunel Escobar is 10-for-23 with four doubles and six RBI over his past six games.

These teams met up for a pair of series in April, and Baltimore won two out of three both times.

05/18 10:23:22 ET