The Baltimore Orioles have won 11 of their past 14 games to ascend to the top of the American League East
Baltimore rebounded from a 3-0 setback on Friday and, after jumping out to a 5-0 lead on Saturday, held on to record its second win in the series, 6-5. The victory gave the Orioles a one-game lead in the division over the reeling Rays, who have dropped 13 of 17 games in July
But on Saturday, James McCann joined Jorge Mateo in ripping two-run doubles, and Austin Hays added an RBI double in a five-run fourth inning. Tampa Bay chipped away with two runs in the sixth inning, one in the seventh and two more in the eighth.
"This is playoff-atmosphere baseball. There is no free at-bats, no free innings," McCann told MASN. "You have to work for everything you get."
That said, McCann is entertaining high hopes when asked if Baltimore can win the World Series this season.
"I do think this team has what it takes," McCann said. "It's a very good mix of young players with a lot of energy and veteran players that have been in that situation before. It's a team that doesn't quit, guys that get after their business in a professional way. Anytime you put all that together, you're going to end up with a lot of success on the field, and that's what we're seeing now."
While not pleased with Saturday's final result, Rays manager Kevin Cash acknowledged that he was encouraged by his team's quality of at-bats over the past few days
"Maybe a little bit," Cash said. "Didn't think it was going to be an overnight flip-a-switch type deal, so we've got to see some progressing -- but I feel that it's fair that we have had better at-bats."
Baltimore will turn to Tyler Wells (7-5, 3.54 ERA) in the series finale on Sunday versus Tampa Bay rookie Taj Bradley (5-6, 5.29) in a battle of right-handers.
Wells, 28, will look to atone for a dismal outing last Tuesday, when he allowed five runs on six hits in a season-low two innings of a 10-3 shellacking by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Wells has surrendered 22 homers in 19 appearances this season (18 starts), including a three-run blast by the Dodgers' Jason Heyward.
"Once those home runs start turning into two-, three-run homers, that's whenever it's a problem," Wells said, per The Baltimore Sun. "I'm definitely taking that personal."
Wells fell to 0-3 in nine career appearances (five starts) versus Tampa Bay after permitting four runs (two earned) on four hits in five innings of a 7-2 setback on June 21 in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Bradley, 22, last tasted victory on June 21 after allowing one run on three hits while striking out eight in a 7-2 victory over Baltimore.
He fell to 0-3 in his past four starts despite permitting just two runs on five hits while fanning nine in a 5-3 setback at the Texas Rangers on Tuesday.
--Field Level Media