After dropping four of their seven games on a western swing that ended with a one-run loss in San Diego on Sunday, the first-place Tampa Bay Rays will return to St. Petersburg, Fla., where they own an elite home record
The Rays, who boast a 31-7 home mark, will open a two-game set with American League East rival Baltimore on Tuesday night
That will be followed by a fast turnaround in a noonish matinee Wednesday before the woeful Kansas City Royals come in for a four-game series to complete the six-game homestand.
Meanwhile, the surprising second-place Orioles, who trail the Rays by five games in a division where all five clubs are over .500 as the season's halfway point nears, are 7-3 over their past 10 games and have a chance to trim their deficit to three games on Florida's Gulf Coast
After that, manager Brandon Hyde's squad gets a day off Thursday and returns home for three contests against the Seattle Mariners as it kicks off a six-game homestand.
The majors' best club at 27 games over .500 and sporting a .680 winning percentage, manager Kevin Cash's Rays played poorly in their final two games against the host Padres, losing both to conclude the road trip with a losing record
After being beaten 2-0 Saturday by former Tampa Bay hurler Blake Snell in a combined three-hit shutout, the Rays lost 5-4 in the finale as star shortstop Wander Franco committed two errors on one play that led to two unearned runs
"We felt like we grinded that entire game," Cash said. "Nothing came easy for us on the mound, nothing came easy for us at the plate. The opportunities eluded us to get that big hit."
In his fifth start in 2023 since returning to the rotation, Tyler Glasnow (2-0, 3.43) will attempt to break his club's two-game skid and improve on the league's best record on home turf.
The 6-foot-8 right-hander has been a nemesis of Baltimore. He is 4-0 with a 2.08 ERA in six career starts against the Orioles
However, still without key offensive producers like Cedric Mullins and Ryan Mountcastle, who remain on the injured list, Baltimore has shown amazing resiliency and beat the division leader twice in three meetings at home last month.
After dropping the first two in Chicago to the Cubs, the Orioles avoided being swept for the first time when they handled the home side 6-3 Sunday
"In this game, it's all about winning the series. And if you lose the first two, you make sure you get one out there," said Aaron Hicks, who was 2-for-3 and reached base three times. "That's how you've got to be. Especially if you want to be on a winning team and a team that goes far into the playoffs."
Added Hyde: "I don't see any panic in our clubhouse."
Righty Kyle Bradish (2-3, 3.90) is scheduled to make his 13th start and will appear for just the third time against the Rays, all of them starting appearances
Bradish is 0-1 with a 10.24 ERA against the Rays and has allowed three homers over 9 2/3 innings, yielding two deep shots to Randy Arozarena and one to Manuel Margot
--Field Level Media