It was a tale of two pitchers Thursday.
It was the best of outings, it was the worst of outings.
On the best side of the ledger was Matt Moore, who bounced back wonderfully after his last outing against the Red Sox, in which he was shelled over five innings of work. Thursday saw the sharp, effective Matt Moore everyone here in Rays’ Country envisioned. He worked seven shutout innings, only allowing two baserunners, one on a double by Nolan Reimold and one on a single by Jonathon Schoop, and striking out nine Baltimore batters. It was a resplendent effort, but it was all for naught, thanks to . . .
An Alex Colome relapse. Colome, who had been absolutely lights out over his past 10 games, not allowing a single earned run in that span, representing 13.1 innings of work. Unfortunately, it was the night of Moore’s gem that the wheels fell off the wagon.
With the Rays up 3-0 going into the eighth inning and the Orioles free-swinging their way to 9 K’s and only two hits, the Rays turned to a reliever sporting the numbers mentioned above; confidence abounded, until we saw Alex pitch. Colome couldn’t locate any of his pitches effectively, missing badly on numerous occasions, including a wild pitch that allowed Schoop, who had singled off of him, to advance to second. A hard hit line drive by Steve Pearce and a beleaguered strikeout of JJ Hardy later, Gerardo Parra singled on the first pitch he saw, advancing Schoop to third and putting runners at the corners with two down.
Steve Clevenger followed that up with a single of his own, scoring Schoop. With runners at first and second, still with two gone, Ryan Flaherty pinch ran for Clevenger and the Rays intentionally walked the slugging Chris Davis to load the bases as Manny Machado stepped into the box. Machado worked the count, though Colome didn’t make very many strong pitches, and finally singled, scoring Parra and cutting the Rays’ lead to 3-2.
With Kirby Yates warming in the bullpen, Kevin Cash elected to stay with the clearly struggling Colome as Adam Jones stepped in, who promptly earned himself a base hit on what was essentially a check-swing, plating both Flaherty and Machado, giving the O’s the 4-3 lead before sending Matt Wieters, the ninth Baltimore hitter of the inning, to the plate, who would strike out to stop the bleeding.
The highlight of the evening for the Rays was John Jaso’s skyscraper of a home run in the third inning. The ball went just about as high to right field as it could get without hitting the roof before coming down and landing in the C-Ring for a solo homer. It was pretty impressive, to say the least, unlike the Rays’ collective efforts over the past few weeks.
Is it April, yet?