The Orioles have received really good production from the bottom of their lineup lately, certainly aided by the fact that Chris Davis is now batting seventh in one of the deepest lineups in the Major Leagues.
Caleb Joseph and Jonathan Schoop drove in three of the Orioles' four runs on Tuesday, and Davis homered in Wednesday's 3-1 loss to Tampa Bay, although Baltimore still maintains a six game lead in the American League East.
"You hope you have as few breathing spots as possible for opposing pitchers, so they have to grind at every hitter, but every team hopes for that," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "There's been times when it wasn't particularly productive, but I get it. There's a reason why. You don't put brands on guys. 'Hey, you're hitting ninth, so you're not supposed to hit.'"
That lineup is hoping to give starter Bud Norris some support on Thursday against the Rays, although they can feel comfortable with him on the mound at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. He owns a home record of 5-2 with a 2.86 ERA compared to 6-6 with a 4.73 ERA on the road.
Jeremy Hellickson will take the mound for the Rays. He has bounced back since missing the start of the season with an elbow injury with a 2.61 ERA in seven starts.
"I've gotten a lot better attacking and going after guys," Hellickson said. "I learned from David [Price] to try and get guys out with three pitches or less. I've done a better job of getting early outs, early contact, whether it's a base hit or not. I'm not really throwing a lot of pitches either way. Just trying to get guys out early and go deep into the game."
Hellickson learned by watching Alex Cobb's start on Tuesday that he must avoid nibbling at the corners too much against the Orioles.
"I don't think there's a team better built for their home ballpark than these guys," Hellickson said. "I think the biggest thing for me tomorrow is to keep it in the yard, stay away from the long ball. Make them string some hits together. But they're a dangerous team. They can do some damage quick."
Rays: Seventh straight winning season in sight
The Rays are attempting to record their seventh straight winning season. If they achieve it, they will become the first team in Major League history to do so after being at least 18 games under .500 earlier in the season (24-42 through June 10).
Tampa Bay currently owns a record of 65-68.
Orioles: Machado has successful surgery
Manny Machado underwent successful surgery to repair the torn medial patellofemoral ligament in his right knee in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
The recovery time for Machado is expected to be 4-6 weeks, and he could return in time to have a normal Spring Training, assuming no setbacks.
"I wanted to have Spring Training next year," Machado said on Monday before departing for the West Coast. "If we waited for the surgery a little longer, it was going to be tough."
• The Rays are 12 games into a stretch in which they play 28 of 32 games against teams currently at .500 or better.
• Steve Pearce is in the midst of a career-high 10-game hitting streak.
Jamal Collier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.