Chris Davis, who leads the majors with 45 HR, has hit 4 against the Rays this season.The Tampa Bay Rays, in first place in the AL East for the first time since July 30, look for the three-game sweep against the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday Night Baseball (7 ET on ESPN2/WatchESPN).
Here are five storylines Jon Sciambi, Doug Glanville and Tim Kurkjian will be talking about tonight.
Best Winning Pct - Since 2008
1. During its first 10 seasons, Tampa Bay finished last in the AL East nine times and never won more than 70 games in a season. But since dropping the “Devil” from their name in 2008, the Rays have the second-best winning percentage in the majors (behind only the New York Yankees) despite posting the fourth-lowest payroll.
2. Last year, the Orioles made the playoffs for the first time since 1997. They did it on the strength of a 29-9 record in one-run games, the best in the modern era. This year, they’ve slumped to 14-22 in one-run games, the second-worst record in the majors.
3. Chris Davis leads the majors with 45 home runs, and has a chance to break the AL record of 61 home runs by Roger Maris in 1961. He has been especially good against outside pitching, slugging .781 and hitting 31 homers against such pitches, 12 more than any other player.
Most HR in Season – Orioles History
Davis is the fourth player in Orioles history to hit 45 home runs in a season, and is on pace to break the franchise record of 50 home runs by Brady Anderson in 1996.
4. Wil Myers didn’t debut until June 18, but he’s put up some of the best numbers among AL rookies this season. The Rays were mired in fourth place in the AL East when he was promoted from Triple-A. Since then, they’ve gone 36-19, the best record in the American League.
Since being promoted, Meyers is hitting .312 (2nd best among AL rookies) with nine home runs (fourth among AL rookies) and 39 RBI (most among AL first-year players).
5. The use of the “Ted Williams Shift,” where a team will play three infielders to one side of second base has exploded in recent seasons. The Orioles and Rays are both near the top of the list when it comes to implementing shifts.
The Orioles have employed a Major League-high 401 shifts, while the Rays have used 353 shifts, fifth most in baseball.
Odds and Ends
• Evan Longoria has hit 146 home runs since his debut in 2008, the most among all third basemen.
• Baltimore has scored at least 10 runs against the Rays three times this season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last time the Orioles scored in double figures in four games against one opponent in a single season was 2003, when they did so against the Boston Red Sox (four times).