Four takeaways from the Orioles series win over the Rays

The Orioles took three of four from the Rays to pad their AL East lead

Baltimore Orioles v Tampa Bay Rays
Baltimore Orioles v Tampa Bay Rays / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

Huge series win at Tropicana Field. Baltimore survived a pivotal series against the division rival Tampa Bay Rays to take control in the AL East and finished with the second best record on MLB. Without further ado, four takeaways from St. Pete.

Orioles take three of four games from Tampa Bay Rays to pad AL East lead

Take the reins: BAL 4-3 TB (F/10)

For the first time since August 2016, the Orioles were on the top of the division. Against Tyler Glasnow (or Oppenheimer), Baltimore jumped against the big righty with three runs on fourth. Things went south in the seventh because Yennier Cano didn't finish the job and the Rays tied the game 3-3.

With both closers used in the ninth, free baseball came about and the Orioles played small ball. The go-ahead run was a sacrifice fly by Colton Cowser to take the lead. Felix Bautista showed why he is the best reliever in black and orange, slamming the door with a strikeout and double play.

Not effective: BAL 0-3 TB

Zach Eflin was superb with seven scoreless innings (2 H, 8 K) and Baltimore was silent and threw away another solid game by Kyle Bradish (6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, BB, 5 K). It was his seventh game in 2023 with zero run support. Not good.

In the seventh, the newest Oriole debuted: Shintaro Fujinami. On the first pitch, the righty allowed a leadoff Home Run to Jose Siri. After that, his stuff showed why Baltimore traded for him. With the loss, both teams were tied for first again.

Newcomers to the rescue: BAL 6-5 TB

Shane McClanahan, one of the favorites for AL Cy Young, lost one game all year. Against his childhood team, he's dominating. Birds exploded with three straight doubles by McCann (2 RBI), Mateo and Hays. A five-run lead and McClanahan is out. A great scenario. But, we had to play until the ninth. Grayson Rodriguez look comfortable in his second outing (5.2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K) and the bullpen didn't hold the lead. In eighth, Fuji pitched again and lost his control. Tampa tied the game 5-5.

In the ninth, they had to overcome Pete Fairbanks. Hyde started with pinch-hitter Adam Frazier, and the veteran hit a opposite field bloop single. McCann stepped in the box and made a sac bunt. The stage was set for another pinch-hitter in Ryan O'Hearn. He was clutch, driving in Frazier to put the Orioles ahead. Bautista did Bautista things and the division lead was back to Birdland.

"I'm the captain": BAL 5-3 TB

The slugfest was saved for Sunday. Gunnar Henderson hit a 446-feet Home Run in the second inning. Before that, he scored the first run of the game on Adley's double. Tyler Wells had a strange line after three innings (no hits, three walks, two hit-by-pitch) and Hyde didn't risk it after Tampa tied the game at 3. Mike Baumann came on in relief and his flawless season continued (7-0).

Ryan O'Hearn hit the foul pole for a home run to put Baltimore ahead in the seventh. Anthony Santander, with a RBI single in the eighth, added some insurance for bullpen hold the lead. Cano and Bautista slammed the door to secure another win.

With this series now done with, the Orioles will need win one of four against Tampa Bay to clinch the advantage in a tiebreaker scenario (head-to-head matchup). The next series against the Rays will be on September 14-17.