Today’s Oriole starter, Chris Tillman, had been struggling mightily since May, with a 2.31 WHIP and plus 9 ERA ,which is why the website 538 gave the Rays a 59% chance of winning. Sadly, 59% is not 100%, and the Rays came up short today. For the second time in this three game series, the bullpen took the loss.
Odorizzi went 5.1 innings, giving up four runs on seven hits, with five strikeouts and one walk. He had his usual issue with home runs, but the two he gave up, to Caleb Joseph and Trey Mancini, were solo shots which somewhat limited the damage. But Cash pulled him after 91 pitches, apparently feeling that nearly three times through the order was more than enough.
Meanwhile, Chris Tillman’s performance wasn’t a whole lot worse, although he was pulled sooner (he pitched 4.1 innings). He managed to get some whiffs and paint some corners. The Rays scratched out runs in the second (Souza single, wild pitch moves him to second, Featherston RBI single) and in the fourth (Daniel Robertson single, moves to third on errant pick-off attempt, Featherston sac fly to deep right), but in the middle of the fifth they were trailing 3-2.
Their offense finally seemed to be churning in the bottom of the fifth. Mallex Smith led off with single through the middle and Dickerson followed with a single of his own. With Longoria coming up, the Fox sports producers showed a video montage of Longo owning Tillman in the past. And wouldn’t you know it, Longo then of course followed with a three run bomb to put the Rays ahead 5-3. That ended Tillman’s afternoon.
Um, yes, we'll take three please. pic.twitter.com/58px89E219— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) June 25, 2017
And then, on Earth 2, a heavy downpour started and the game was called.
Oh, sorry. That’s not what happened.
Instead, Odorizzi allowed a solo shot to Trey Mancini in the 6th, cutting the lead to 5-4 and ending his outing. And then, after an effective Tommy Hunter 1.2 innings, Chase Whitley gave up a lead off home run to Jonathan Schoop. Game tied in the eighth.
Now with a tied game we get the Orioles good bullpen which has some effective guys even with Britton still out. Showalter started the eighth with righty Brad Brach. Brach would go on to pitch the bottom of the ninth as well and earn the save.
But of course it was the top of the ninth that really decided the game. Cash went to Alex Colome to preserve the tie. It is not uncommon for home teams to bring in their “closer” to pitch the ninth in a tie game. After all, there will be no lead to protect, so why not bring in your best high leverage option, especially when you have the heart of your order coming up in the bottom of the ninth and therefore a decent chance to walk it off then. And certainly there would be second guesses if Cash had, say, stuck with Whitley for a second inning and he had given up the go-ahead run.
But Colome’s inning could scarcely have gone worse. Caleb Joseph started the inning with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. With first base open, Colome intentionally walked Seth Smith to get to right handed hitting Joey Rickard. Rickard responded by crushing a pitch out over the plate for a ground rule double, plating the go-ahead run. With first base once again open, Machado was intentionally walked to load the bases. Colome then hit Schoop with pitch, forcing in another run, and a third run came home on Adam Jones sac fly.
The Rays then went in order in the bottom of the ninth, losing 8-5.
A few concluding thoughts:
- Jesus Sucre beat out an infield hit! There is a sentence I never thought I’d write
- With both Brian Anderson and Dewayne Staats absent, I decided it was a good time to check out the Baltimore broadcast. During a Corey Dickerson at bat they complained about the fact that Dickerson constantly stepped out of the box and took his time, adjusting his batting gloves, before stepping back in. According to the new pace of play rules, of course, batters may step out after swinging, but are supposed to stay in the box after taking a pitch. Dickerson, however, stepped out every time. At first I took umbrage at their attack on the Rays best hitter, because I assumed that all hitters pretty much disregarded those rules. But in fact, as far as I could tell, the other hitters did stay in the box as required. Only Dickerson has, dare I say it, a David Ortiz-like between-pitch routine. Now I wonder whether opposing managers might make this an issue at some point.
In sum, this was a badly dispiriting game loss, and series loss, against a floundering division rival at a moment in which the Rays needed to, and seemed poised to, continue to bank wins.