The Orioles (61-94, 5th) are playing out the string and will finish last in the AL East division for the third straight season. However, 2010 was actually the tale of two seasons in Baltimore and the second one, the one with Buck Showalter at the helm, differed radically from the first. Prior to Showalter replacing interim manager Juan Samuel, the Orioles were 32-73 but they're 29-21 since, making life pretty miserable for American League opponents who had become accustomed to the O's being pushovers. This turnaround, along with the continued development of young players like catcher Matt Wieters should give Baltimore fans some hope for the future. The Orioles are 4-6 in their last ten games and were swept by the Blue Jays in Toronto in their last series, the first time they've been swept since late July, also in Toronto. Brian Matusz (8-12, 4.59) will get the start in the opener for Baltimore.
Of course, for the Rays (93-62, 1st), the future is now. They hold a half game lead over the New York Yankees in the AL East and could clinch at least a Wild Card berth tonight with a win or a loss by the Boston Red Sox. The Rays are 5-5 in their last ten and appeared to be sputtering about a week ago, having fallen 2.5 games out of first. But since wins of 7-2 and 10-3 over the Yankees at New York to earn a split of that four game series, they have won four of their last five games and re-taken the top spot in the division. The Rays will send Wade Davis (12-9, 4.13) to the hill for the opener. Slugging third baseman Evan Longoria is nursing a strained quad muscle he apparently injured turning a double play on Thursday night against the Yankees. he didn't play all weekend and may not see action until later this week. The injury isn't serious but manager Joe Maddon is exercising caution leading up to the postseason.