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Up next: Orioles

By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times
published April 18, 2003

SCOUTING REPORT: The Orioles are a bit like the Devil Rays. They are inconsistent, they win more than they lose, they play a lot of close games, and starting pitching and defense have been problems. Of their first 13 games, including three against the Rays last week, 10 have been decided by three runs or fewer, and six by one run. Going into Thursday's game, they'd won back-to-back games only once this season.

Rebuilding has been a lengthy process, with co-general managers Mike Flanagan and Jim Beattie in charge. Offseason additions weren't much: shortstop Deivi Cruz and starting pitchers Omar Daal and Rick Helling. It hasn't done well in the past week, but the strength is the bullpen, led by closer Jorge Julio with help from Willis Roberts and left-handers B.J. Ryan and Buddy Groom.

CONNECTIONS: Jason Johnson, who starts tonight for Baltimore, was an expansion draft pick and pitched for the Rays in 1998, then was traded for Danny Clyburn. . . . Rays manager Lou Piniella made his major-league debut for the Orioles in 1964, but appeared in only four games. . . . Orioles coach Sam Perlozzo was on Piniella's Seattle staff.

SEASON SERIES: The Rays won two of three last week at the Trop. The series is tied 39-39 and the Rays are 18-19 at Camden Yards.

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