Four pitches in the top of the seventh decided this game.
To set the table: Jose Alvarado — in to start the inning for Jacob Faria — walked the lead off man, Seth Smith on six pitches. He was quickly relieved by Jumbo Diaz. On Diaz’s first pitch, Manny Machado laid down a perfect bunt toward Evan Longoria and reached without a throw.
But if Jumbo was flustered, he didn’t show it. He followed by striking out Jonathan Schoop on three pitches, finishing him with a nasty slider sweeping out of the zone. He then got ahead of Adam Jones 0-2 before inducing a soft tapper to second. Jones was retired as the runners moved up to second and third for Mark Trumbo.
Diaz then quickly got ahead of Trumbo 1-2. He looked to put him away and get out of this dicey inning.
Then came the four pitches.
With Wilson Ramos set up for another low and away slider, one that Diaz had executed several times in the inning, Jumbo’s offering backed up, staying high and inside for ball two.
On the 2-2 pitch, Diaz overthrew a 97 mph fastball, missing badly high.
After missing badly on two shots to put away Trumbo, Diaz tried the slider again on 3-2. But he hung this one, and Trumbo ripped it to the wall in left-center for a double, scoring Smith and Machado. 5-3 Orioles.
On the very next pitch, Trey Mancini hit a poorly located fastball out to right. 7-3 O’s. And for all intents and purposes, that was the ball game.
As for Jacob Faria, he was not as sharp as he has been his first three starts. But then, nobody expects him to be. Yes, his command wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible. He was mostly burned by the hit batsman and the longball. For the day, he went 6 innings, giving up three earned runs on five hits, a walk and two hit batters. He struck out seven. 74 of his 108 pitches were strikes. If that’s “bad Jacob,” I’ll gladly take it every fifth day.
The Rays fell into a 2-0 hole in the second inning when Faria plunked Trey Mancini on an 0-2 pitch, then gave a homer to Welington Castillo on a 3-2 slider that wasn’t well located. They fell behind further in the third when Adam Jones hit one to straight away center that bounced on top of the wall and over the fence for a solo homer. It was a play that (perhaps) Kevin Kiermaier makes, but the smaller Mallex Smith didn’t really have a shot at.
The Rays got back into the game in their half of the third. Tim Beckham led off the inning with a walk, but was quickly erased on a double play.
But wait! There’s more!
With two out, Mallex Smith drew an eight pitch walk. Then Corey Dickerson hit a one-pitch home run that didn’t get more than 6.9 feet off the ground and traveled about 420 mph into the Dan Johnson seats in right.
And on the very next pitch, Evan Longoria took Dylan Bundy deep to center. And all of a sudden it was 3-3.
It was a club record tenth time the Rays have gone back-to-back this year.
Then those four pitches in the seventh happened and ruined a perfectly good narrative, but you knew that already.
The Orioles would score one additional run. The Rays would not.
- The O’s did not give up five runs for the first time since the Eisenhower Administration.
- Doug Waechter was a treat in the booth next to DeWayne. They had good chemistry, and he brought a different, fresh voice from the one BA brings.
- Mallex Smith made a strange baserunning gaffe in the first. With two outs and Mallex on first, Logan Morrison hit a slow chopper to a shifted Manny Machado. It was clearly going to be an infield hit, and Machado ate it. But imagine his surprise when he looked up and Mallex was rounding second! A short rundown ensued, resulting in a 5-6-5 putout to end the inning. The only explanation I can think of is that Smith was planning to take third on the throw..
- Wilson Ramos made his debut, and got his first hit. But honestly, he didn’t look that great. Still, don’t overreact. It’s one game.
- But: Ramos is slow. Really slow. Like Molina slow. That’s not going to change. Yes, Manny Machado made a nice play going deep behind third and throwing across his body all the way across the diamond. But there are probably three players he actually gets out on that play. One of them is Ramos, and the other two are on crutches.
- Erik Neander gave an in-game interview in the third. His voice is very soothing. I bet he reads great bedtime stories.
- Also, the 4-6-3 double play Robertson hit into happened during this interview. Neander, being the pro he is, did not break stride and made no mention of it. He did however let out an audible sigh as the double play went down, which to me was the funniest unintentionally funny moment of the year. It was just the perfect description of what being a baseball fan is all about.