Surging Orioles look to continue rolling vs. Rays

The pieces have been coming together for the Baltimore Orioles, who have won seven of their past eight games.

Players have fit into roles during this stretch, with reliever Craig Kimbrel back in the closer’s slot.

After winning Friday night’s series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays, the host Orioles will try to build on that 3-1 result when the teams meet again Saturday.

“We use all our guys on the bench. We use all our guys in the bullpen,” Baltimore outfielder Austin Hays said. “We never make it easy on ourselves, but we find a way to win.”

Baltimore’s pitchers did the job, but Rays manager Kevin Cash was pleased with many of his players’ at-bats in what he described as some bad-luck outcomes.

“We’re going to have to find a way to get more than one (run) across,” Cash said.

Kimbrel had a strong April and then a few shaky outings. He was summoned in different situations to work out some kinks, but he has evolved back into the closer. He pitched a perfect ninth inning Friday night.

Maybe the adjustment in roles helped his cause.

“He has been pitching really well ever since,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said.

The Rays had a memorable development on the mound as well. Justin Sterner made his major league debut Friday by logging two shutout innings in relief.

“Just a privilege and a blessing and grateful that I had the opportunity,” Sterner said. “Just trying to take it all in at this moment.”

But before Sterner was in the game, the Orioles scored all three of their runs in the sixth inning. Hays did his part by providing a pinch-hit RBI single to tie the score. He’s batting .173, but came through in a clutch situation.

“It’s a long season, you got to (with it),” Hays said. “Keep showing up and working hard every day.”

Saturday’s game will be a matchup of young pitchers who were both impressive in their most recent starts.

Orioles right-hander Kyle Bradish (1-0, 1.75 ERA) will try to build off a special outing on Sunday. He held the Chicago White Sox hitless for seven innings before he was removed after throwing 103 pitches. He struck out 11 and picked up his first victory of the year.

This will mark Bradish’s sixth start of the season, which he began on the injured list. He is 1-3 with a 6.18 ERA in five career starts against Tampa Bay.

Right-hander Taj Bradley (1-2, 3.13), who also was on the injured list at the beginning of the season, will be on the mound for the Rays. He blanked the Kansas City Royals on one hit in five innings on Sunday but settled for a no-decision. He has 16 strikeouts in his last two starts combined.

Last year as a rookie, Bradley went 1-0 with a 3.27 ERA in two starts vs. the Orioles.

–Field Level Media