The Rays were swept by Baltimore, but hey, we have gifs! The talented Brett Phillips has joined the DRaysBay masthead, and will be providing a touch more media to our Rays coverage. Welcome aboard, Brett!
Now, for your own sanity, just skip to the middle section then join us in the comments.
Desmond Jennings scored the Rays first run of the game, darting home from second base after a steal, thanks to a looper from Evan Longoria with two outs off the deceptive Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez.
Ubaldo started the game with wily control, walking leadoff hitter Bem Zobrist on four pitches -- who came up limping after the slide on a fielder's choice by Jennings, but he would return in the second.
Jim Hickey would be ejected between frames in the first inning, arguing Adam Jones should have struck out on a checked swing. This was a bit of pent up aggression from Hickey, as the Rays have not had many of those calls fall their way this season, but the home plate umpire Marty Jones had a short fuse this evening. The inning would end on a caught stealing by Nelson Cruz, giving Adam Jones another turn in the second. In both tries he took seven pitches from Price.
Matt Wieters was back in the line up after a trip to Pensacola yesterday to visit Dr. Andrews. The Rays' respected team physician, who works for just about anyone who'll pay, judged the All-Star catcher could avoid surgery, but thus far he's expected to stay working from Designated Hitter. He would be the fifth out of the game on a called third strike that was ridiculous, even by Jose Molina's standards.
Steve Pearce gave the Orioles the lead, however, on a Happy Gilmore shot that made it to the seats, plating the runner at second while the ball floated out to the left field stands.
Come the fourth inning, Price was pitching well enough, generating groundballs and easy flies, but in this inning two extremely sharp hits went toward the hot corner. Longoria dove left and then took one to the chest, excellent stops that limited damage, but the runners would be safe in strange-to-see fashion. Longo normally makes any play look easy, but these were too difficult. With two strikes, Price gave up an RBI single to Schoop, then found another pop up on his 81st pitch.
Boxberger's Perfect Frame
A short while later, Price and Jimenez each reached their end with five outs, with the Orioles first loading the bases, then the Rays putting two on with none out.
Price would be lifted for Brad Boxberger, and the kid was just incredible. Two change ups inside, then a strikeout swinging on a fastball at the letters.
Fastball taken, change inside, another high swinging K.
Pitch in, pitch in, a silly swing at a cutter in the zone.
Nine pitches, three glorious swinging strikeouts. Lord, almighty!
Jimenez would be lifted for Ryan Webb to face Yunel Escobar, who batted a fielder's choice, and pinch hitter Ryan Hanigan grounding out sharply to short.
Boxy returned, and after a ground out then a four pitch walk, Joel Peralta came on to strike out Nelson Cruz, mixing his fastball and splitter rather effectively. Adam Jones then came on with three hits to his name and finally grounded out.
Stop me if this sounds familiar: in the seventh Zobrist walked, Jennings hit into a fielder's choice, then stole second to get in scoring position. Joyce walked behind him, but Longoria went down on a low slider and whiffed, then Loney flew out to center.
Juan Carlos Oviedo, thereafter, looked incredibly effective tonight. He pitched his own 1-2-3, including two swinging K's of Wieters and Hardy.
Ryan Hanigan led the bottom of the ninth with a liner off the tip of Adam Jone's glove in center field, in his second at bat of the game. The pitcher Darren O'Day then tried a bunch of sinkers on Ben Zobrist, his fifth pitch finally creeping in on the zone with Zobrist lacing it through the right side. Desmond Jennings would bat into the double play, however, and a chopper from Joyce ended the game.
On a night of so many second chances for the Rays, this was not fun. After a hard fought week, the Rays are going quietly in the fifth week of play, and it's so frustrating against a division rival. Once again 4.5 games back, if the Rays can't pull closer to even in this division, you have to wonder where they'll be in a month from now.