The Tampa Bay Rays' disappointing July continued on Wednesday afternoon as they suffered a 5-1 loss to the Texas Rangers (box score). The Rays have now lost four consecutive contests, including all three games they played against the Rangers, a potential future playoff opponent. Tampa Bay has had a dismal start to July, recording a 3-11 mark to date with a minus-18 run differential.
Combine the Rays' loss on Thursday with the Baltimore Orioles' 8-5 victory against the Los Angeles Dodgers (box score), and there's an unfamiliar scene at the top of the American League East: a tie between those squads. The Rays had possessed an outright lead in the East since the close of business on April 1. They were up by 6 ½ games, tying a season-high lead, as recently as July 1.
In the time since, the Rays have slumped. The Orioles, meanwhile, enjoyed a recent eight-game winning streak that helped them close the gap. Baltimore is 10-5 on the month with a plus-27 run differential.
The deadlock at the top of the division comes at a fitting time, since the Rays will host the Orioles for a four-game set beginning on Thursday. Here are the probable matchups for those games, according to FanGraphs:
- Thursday, July 20: Kyle Gibson (BAL) vs. Tyler Glasnow (TB)
- Friday, July 21: Kyle Bradish (BAL) vs. Zach Eflin (TB)
- Saturday, July 22: Grayson Rodriguez (BAL) vs. Shane McClanahan (TB)
- Sunday, July 23: Tyler Wells (BAL) vs. Taj Bradley (TB)
The Rays and Orioles have already played five times this season. Baltimore has prevailed in three of those contests, taking a three-game set at home in May and then splitting a two-game set in late June. The Rays do possess a slight edge in run differential, having outscored the Orioles by three.