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Tampa Bay Rays Vs. Baltimore Orioles: Game One Preview

The Tampa Bay Rays (33-29) are back in action today, visiting the Baltimore Orioles (29-31) for a three-game set. Taking the mound for the Rays, Jeremy Hellickson (7-3, 2.64 ERA, 3.67 FIP) looks for his third straight victory after having pitched exceptionally in the early going this year. Advanced statistics (like Fielding Independent Pitching, or FIP) suggest Hellickson has been pitching a bit over his head lately, but hopefully his regression to expectations will not come too hard or soon because -- even though the Orioles have been cellar dwellers in the AL East for some time -- the 2011 Orioles present more of a challenge than in the past.

Particularly tough is tonight's starter, Jake Arrieta (7-3, 4.93 ERA, 4.64 FIP), who has been the exact opposite of Jeremy Hellickson, in some respects, this year. Arrieta has an inflated ERA, near 5.00, but his expected FIP(4.20 xFIP) actually bests that of Jeremy Hellickson (4.32 xFIP).

One key to the Rays success lately has been the killer offense from minor league journeyman Justin Ruggiano. Since the calender struck June, Ruggiano has hit a dandy .333/.333/.600 slash over 15 plate appearances. He recent hot hitting may earn him a few more starts against right-handed pitchers, especially given Sam Fuld's extended slump (he has hit a terrible .170/.200/.255 slash since the beginning of May.

Game Time: 7:05 p.m. ET at Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Television: Sun Sports HD
Radio: WDAE 620 AM, WGES 680 AM

Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.