This game felt like how I imagine it would feel to be taken off life support. There's initially opposition and you struggle, but you lose energy, and as moments pass it gets harder and harder to put up any kind of a fight. By the end of it, you're so tired you basically just accept it. The Rays showed life early on, and that was basically the closest they came to winning this game. Kevin Gausman was able to work out of trouble and get well-timed strikeouts, and the Rays pretty much just rolled over today.
Alex Cobb avoided a typical problematic first inning by working out of a two-out jam and striking out Nelson Cruz. The Rays had their biggest threat of the whole game in the bottom of the inning, when they loaded the bases with Matt Joyce, Kevin Kiermaier, and Evan Longoria without recording any outs. A team that loads the bases with no outs has a run expectancy of just under 2.5, but the Rays continued to defy convention with runners in scoring position by striking out twice and fouling out to left field to end any semblance of a scoring opportunity.
From this point on, both Cobb and Orioles starter Kevin Gausman settled right down. It made the game pretty dang boring to recap. Although he let a couple of men on base by way of the walk, Cobb would not allow another O's hit until the 5th inning. Gausman also remained tough to hit, and he benefited from a couple of fine defensive plays in the bottom of the third inning. Kiermaier lined out to first, and Longoria got a good look at Manny Machado's range when he dived to stop a ball destined for left field.
Gausman would bend but not break in the fourth inning. With two outs, David Dejesus doubled on a ground ball to right to give the Rays their first runner in scoring position since the first inning. The O's starter quickly fell behind Jerry Sands and uncorked a wild pitch that sent DeJesus to third base, but he got Sands to pop out to end the inning.
In the fifth, the O's finally broke the tie. Cobb quickly got two outs but was victimized by an error by Ben Zobrist to extend the inning. In steps Steve Pearce, who is quickly propelling himself into the pantheon of Ray-Killers.
Ugh. Orioles up 1-0.
The top of the sixth would go pretty smoothly for Cobb. After giving up a two-out, two-strike single to J.J. Hardy, he absolutely tore up Manny Machado and struck him out on three straight pitches.
The bottom of the inning was sort of like a microcosm of the Rays season. Evan Longoria led off the inning with a double, which should have been a warning sign because the Rays turn into wax statues when someone gets past first base. James Loney then struck out on a ball six inches high and outside. The next at-bat would be the impossibly ridiculous one. Ben Zobrist, on a 2-2 count, looped a ball into relatively shallow left field. Off the bat it maybe looked like it might fall in but it hung up there for an out. From the limited perspective of my television screen I saw what had to have been the most casual double play ever.
Longoria inexplicably was running on first contact and didn't even bother to look back to see if the ball was caught. It's not like Pearce made a spectacular catch a la Manny Ramirez; Kevin Kiermaier makes these kinds of plays in his sleep. Whatever, threat neutralized, inning over.
In the top of the seventh Cobb worked around a walk (to the dreaded Steve Pearce) and another hit to retire to Orioles with no further damage. This would be the end of his night, as Maddon would call to Cesar Ramos and Kirby Yates for the next inning. He'd leave the game after throwing 111 pitches, only 70 of which were strikes. Although he collected six strikeouts and the only run he allowed was unearned, he gave up four hits and four walks. In the bottom of the inning the O's called to Tommy Hunter and he flashed some excellent stuff, striking out DeJesus and getting Sands to ground out to third. Escobar made a solid bid for a game-tying home run but he hit the ball 403 feet in a 404 foot part of the park.
Adam Jones misplayed the ball (it seemed like he didn't really know where the wall was) and made the catch look a lot better than it needed to be, but it was still a very nice leaping catch.
Ramos retired the only batter he faced in the eighth, but Kirby Yates was not so efficient. He allowed a home run to Nelson Cruz, who holy cow leads the majors in home runs this year? Why didn't I know this? Did anyone else think that that would happen? Yates allowed a hit to J.J. Hardy and hit Jonathan Schoop with a pitch before retiring the side.
Oviedo came in for the top of the ninth and promptly gave up a double to Steve Pearce who was blessedly pulled for a pinch runner. Chris Davis hit a long fly ball to center that was basically a mirror image of Escobar's deep fly ball, as Jennings had it, lost it, and found it again with a leap. In the bottom of the ninth it was nothing doing. Zach Britton showed why he's a solid closer and retired the Rays in order. O's pitching retired 11 straight batters to end this game.
The Rays lose another series on this super-duper important home stand that everyone was talking about early on. Plus they went 0-7 with RISP. Plus they've now been shut out 11 times this season. This is the easiest part of year but this team sure isn't making it look like it.
Tomorrow the Astros come to town (remember them?) and Chris Archer will face off against Collin McHugh.