After dropping the first two games of their season-defining series against the Tampa Bay Rays (92-58), the Baltimore Orioles (92-56) struck back in a big way on Saturday night, jumping all over ace Tyler Glasnow early and cruising to an 8-0 win. With a little bit of breathing room atop the AL East, the O’s now look to salvage a split of this four-game set in the finale on Sunday, with first pitch from Camden Yards set for 1:35 p.m. ET. Tampa will send Zack Littell (3-6, 4.25 ERA) to the mound, while Baltimore counters with Dean Kremer (12-5, 4.25).
With Saturday’s win, the O’s are now a game up — two in the loss column — of Tampa in the AL East. Baltimore has already clinched the season series, so they’ll have the edge in the event that this race ends in a tie. The Rays head back home for three games against the Angels next week, while the Orioles hit the road for another big showdown with the Astros in Houston.
Baltimore enters as -125 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, with Tampa at +105. The run total is set at 9.
Rays-Orioles picks: Sunday, September 17
Day to day: 1B/OF Luke Raley (soreness)
Out: OF Jose Siri (fractured right hand), RP Jason Adam (left oblique strain)
Day-to-day: 1B Ryan Mountcastle (left shoulder soreness)
Out: RP Felix Bautista (right UCL injury)
Zack Littell vs. Dean Kremer
An anonymous reliever entering the season, Littell has been surprisingly solid since injury issues thrust him into Tampa’s rotation in the second half. The righty has posted a 3.86 ERA over nine starts, allowing more than three runs in only three of them. He’s coming off a couple of his best outings of the year, eight innings of one-run ball against the Mariners followed by three runs and eight Ks over seven innings in a hard-luck loss to the Twins earlier this week. It’s not the flashiest arsenal, but his splitter is a real weapon when it’s working, and he’s shown the ability to eat up innings.
Kremer, by contrast, is coming off of one of his worst outings of 2023. The righty took a no-decision against the Cardinals earlier this week, giving up five runs on seven hits and four walks over 4.1 innings of work while striking out just two. Prior to that, though, Kremer had been rock solid all summer, with two or fewer runs allowed in eight of his previous 11 starts dating back to the start of July (ERA over that stretch: 2.69). He has given up an .807 OPS to lefties this season, one of the reasons why he’s comparatively struggled at home this year — his ERA at lefty-friendly Camden Yards is an ugly 4.78, with 17 homers allowed in 17 starts.
These teams haven’t hit this number all series, and I’m banking on the under again on Sunday afternoon. The Orioles finally busted out of their slump at the plate on Saturday night, but they’re still not swinging the bats particularly well at the moment, and Littell has shown an ability to go five or six innings while keeping his team competitive consistently. If Kremer gets his cutter back today, I think we’re in for a relatively low-scoring affair with two decent starters and uneven lineups.
Pick: Under 9
There’s not much to separate Littell and Kremer on the mound — the latter’s recent clunker notwithstanding — but in a game that figures to be tight, I continue to have slightly more faith in Tampa’s bullpen as the O’s really miss Felix Bautista right now. The Rays pulled away late on Thursday and Friday, and they’re better equipped to win these sorts of games right now — especially at plus odds.
Pick: Rays +105