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Rays 3 Orioles 1: Sharp defense, great bullpen and tenacious Odor overcome Orioles

Rays generate just enough offense to take the second game of the series.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Orioles came into the season as a team that was chock full of great hitters, but whose starting pitchers were suspect.  In these last two games, however, their pitching has been pretty good.  Gausman pitched well on Monday night, and tonight Ubaldo Jimenez was quite effective, too.  However, the Orioles offense has been held to just 1 run by Rays pitching, and as a result the Rays are now positioned for their first series sweep of the year.

Early innings:  smoke but no fire

Jake Odorizzi had a strong first inning, retiring the Orioles in order with help from his center fielder on this Adam Jones fly ball:

KK's catch

The Rays looked like they would get to Ubaldo Jimenez early.  Logan Forsythe led off with a deep fly ball to right field.  Mark Trumbo made a leap that looked sort of like Kiermaier’s first inning leap for Jones’ fly ball, with one key difference:  Trumbo missed and the ball went beyond him for an easy double.  LoFo made it to third on a wild pitch, but unfortunately that was it for the Rays, as he was thrown out trying to score on a Longoria grounder.

Odorizzi stumbled a bit in the second, giving up two hits that resulted in men on second and third with just one out.  He managed to get a strike out and a fly ball out, but got into several deep counts to do so.  The Rays also threatened again in their half of the second.  The red-hot Logan Morrison, moved finally out of the number two slot in the order, smacked a double and even stole third base.  Once again, however, the Rays failed to score a runner from third, and the second inning ended with the score still at 0-0.

In the Orioles’ third, Caleb Joseph led off with a single.  Odorizzi got the next three batters out, but it nonetheless took him 27 pitches to get through the inning.  Brian Anderson noted that he went to full counts on 5 of the first 10 batters he faced.  Even though the game was scoreless after three, it was clear that Odorizzi was not going to make it far into the game.

Both teams get on the board

The Rays finally scored in the bottom of the third. After a LoFo walk, Brad Miller hit deep to right field, missing a home run by maybe two feet, and settling for a double off the wall.  Jimenez first pitched around and then intentionally walked Corey Dickerson.  As it happened, Todd Kalas was interviewing Rays owner Stu Sternberg during this inning, and Stu, who diligently marks his scorecard as he watches, presciently predicted that the Orioles were not going to give Dickerson anything near the strike zone.  Desmond Jennings did, however, manage to get the run home with a well hit sacrifice fly, somewhat surprisingly the Rays first sac fly of the year.  1-0 Rays.

The Orioles, however, got that run back immediately.  The shift is a marvelous thing against a left handed power hitter like Chris Davis, except when he dribbles one down the third base line and there’s no one there to field it.  Then it’s a double on a frustratingly play-able ball.  Trumbo then singled, scoring Davis, and moved to second on a spectacularly ineffective DJ throw.  The score was 1-1, and while neither hit off Odorizzi has been scorched, his constant working behind hitters and getting into deep counts doesn’t inspire confidence.  He then walked Hardy on four pitches and allowed a single to Pedro Alvarez.  With bases loaded on none out this game seemed to be about to deteriorate into a depressing beat down.

Except that it doesn’t.  Schoop got under a splitter for an infield pop up.  And then, miraculously, our fly ball pitcher induced a grounder off the bat of Caleb Joseph and a double play ended the inning.

Jimenez is pretty good, until he isn't

Odo managed a relatively quiet fifth, allowing a single to Jones but picking him off first base.  But by the end of the inning he was close to 100 pitches and his night was done.  He was replaced by Enny Romero, who pitched a perfect 6thand faced one batter in the 7th; Erasmo Rivera, who pitched the 7th and 8th; and both Xavier Cedeno and Alex Colome who shared the ninth.  Among them they allowed exactly two baserunners.  This bullpen is not bad.

Jimenez, meanwhile, was effectively moving around the zone, mixing mostly off speed pitches with a low 90s fastball.  He seemed to have settled down and looked like he’d cruise through the 6th inning at least.  But then he allowed a two out single to Steven Souza Jr.  He got ahead of Kiermaier 0-2 and then left a 90 mph fastball pretty much over the inner part of the plate, which happens to be KK’s hot zone.  The two-run homer to right field put the Rays up 3-1, and that was all they needed.  Fun fact from Sports Talk Florida’s Matt Stein:  this was only KK's second career home run on 0-2.

Concluding thoughts

Odorizzi and the bullpen were certainly helped by a strong Rays’ defense. They turned three double plays in this game. Is the new slide rule going to increase the number of double plays around the league this year? Brian Anderson suggested as much after watching Logan Forsythe manage a tricky turn at second base. That would not have been possible, he thought, if the second baseman had to worry about the runner aiming for his knees.

While Kiermaier is justly celebrated as the star of the game, with his timely home run and his spectacular first inning catch, Brad Miller and Logan Forsythe also made noteworthy contributions on both offense and defense.

Corey Dickerson was intentionally walked twice. He didn’t do much in his other two at bats, but clearly Buck Showalter decided he was a dangerous match up with the Orioles’ right handed pitchers.

I still find it strange to look into the dugout and see players gazing at an Ipad.

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