American League Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, May 12th (All times Eastern)
Tampa Bay Rays (20-13) at Baltimore Orioles (21-12), 7:05 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Tampa Bay - Matt Moore (1-2, 5.71) Baltimore - Brian Matusz (1-4, 5.91)
(Sports Network) - The Baltimore Orioles will try to protect their spot atop the AL East tonight as they host the Tampa Bay Rays in the second portion of a three-game series at Camden Yards.
Baltimore took a 4-3 win behind a clutch home run from unlikely hero Nick Johnson in the series opener on Friday to earn a one-game lead over their divisional rival in the standings.
Tampa Bay will turn the ball over to Matt Moore (1-2) tonight in an attempt to create another tie with the Orioles. The Rays young lefty starter has been considered one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball, but he has not been overwhelming so far in his first full-time season in the majors.
Moore gave up eight earned runs in 4 2/3 innings to Oakland in his last start on Sunday. However, he appeared in control versus Seattle on May 1 with a strong five-inning outing in which he struck out seven, gave up only one earned run and earned his second career win.
"He has a great fastball, he just doesn't know where it's going all the time quite yet. I've seen that before with our other young pitchers, so he's going to be fine," said Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon when discussing Moore.
The Rays' manager hopes his offense can be more productive to give his youngster run support tonight. Tampa Bay was hitless after five innings and left eight men on base in yesterday's loss. Carlos Pena's slump continued as he went 0-for-4.
Moore will have to focus on his control tonight as he goes up against Baltimore's powerful lineup.
The Orioles' Nick Markakis has homered in three of his last four games and Adam Jones also went deep on Friday. Baltimore seems to be getting power in its lineup from everywhere as Johnson's go-ahead home run was his first in over two years.
"You know that he's grinding. You trust guys with Nick's make-up and the things that he's been through to get to this point. [He] had a lot of good at- bats tonight," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter.
Baltimore's inexperienced starter Dana Eveland did enough in his six innings of action to keep the game close before the bullpen submitted an excellent performance. Darren O'Day picked up the decision and Pedro Strop set up Jim Johnson for his 10th save as the trio held Tampa Bay hitless for the final three innings.
Lefty Brian Matusz takes the mound for the home team today and will try to bounce back from Monday's disastrous outing in which he gave up 10 hits and seven runs to the mighty Texas Rangers.
Matusz finished 1-9 with a 10.69 ERA in 2011 but has shown flashes in spots during his career. The lefty gave up only one run to the Yankees in 6 1/3 innings in his start prior to Monday's hiccup versus Texas.
Matusz is 3-2 with a 5.70 ERA in six career starts versus Tampa Bay and will be looking to get redemption after lasting only 1 1/3 innings the last time he took the mound against the Rays.
Baltimore is looking to win its third of four games tonight.
The Orioles split 18 meetings with Tampa Bay last season.
05/12 10:47:58 ET