Rays, Orioles set for division showdown

While the Tampa Bay Rays were expected to compete for an American League East title, the fact that they are tied with the Baltimore Orioles for the top spot comes as a complete shock.

Tonight, the division front-runners square off in the opener of a three-game series at Camden Yards.

The Orioles managed to take one of four games from the Texas Rangers, splitting a doubleheader on Thursday. Baltimore won the first game and used back-to-back-to-back home runs to start the game and five overall in a 6-5 win.

They weren't as fortunate in the nightcap, however, and fell, 7-3.

Still, for a franchise that has not had a winning record since 1997, Orioles manager Buck Showalter has to like where his team sits right now at 20-12.

"You've just got to turn the page and move on," Showalter said of losing the series.

Tonight, he turns to righty Dana Eveland, who will be making his season debut. Eveland was called upon after Jason Hammel reported discomfort in his right knee.

Eveland has spent the majority of his career shuffling back-and-forth between the minors and big leagues and owns a career mark of 19-24 with a 5.52 ERA for Oakland, Toronto, Pittsburgh and the Dodgers.

He was 3-2 with a 2.21 ERA in six starts with Triple-A Norfolk this season.

"He had a good year in a very hitter-friendly park in Triple-A and has had some success at times in the big leagues," Showalter said. "He's pitching real well down there, pitching as well as any of their starters are, so I think we're lucky to have him. We'll see if Tampa agrees with me."

Tampa, meanwhile, will counter with reigning AL Rookie of the Year Jeremy Hellickson, who is 3-0 with a 2.75 ERA. Hellickson did not get a decision on Saturday against Oakland, as he allowed three runs (two earned) and five hits in 3 2/3 innings of a 4-3 loss.

"It's not a good feeling, getting pulled in the fourth inning," Hellickson said. "It's been a long four days."

Hellickson has had success against the O's, posting a 4-1 mark to go along with a 2.23 ERA in six games (five starts).

Tampa will be looking to get back on track tonight after dropping two of three to the New York Yankees, including a 5-3 setback in Thursday's rubber match at Yankee Stadium.

David Price (5-2) gave up five runs on 11 hits with four strikeouts and three walks over seven frames, laboring throughout as the Yankees kept the pressure on.

"I thought I pitched a pretty good game," said Price. "Just a few bad throws I made and they hit them well."

Sean Rodriguez finished with two hits and Elliot Johnson added two hits and scored two runs for the Rays, who have dropped four of five overall.

The Rays split 18 meetings with the Orioles last season.