So that just happened.
At one point, this game was tied 2-2. Joey Rickard was 2 for 2 for the Orioles. The rest of the team was 0 for 19.
And then it got weirder.
Take it from the Top
The Rays put baserunners on all over the place against struggling starter Chris Tillman. In his five-plus innings of work, Tillman retired the side in order once. But the Rays only managed to push any runs across in the second.
Steven Souza Jr. rapped a sharp single through the hole with one out, bringing Wilson Ramos to the plate. Ramos fell behind 1-2, but then got a slider that didn’t slide. He hit it a mile to straight away center, over the head of Adam Jones and past the wall for a two-run homer.
We've been waiting for you, ̶S̶t̶a̶r̶f̶o̶x̶ Buffalo. pic.twitter.com/rwBMAkINGA— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) June 30, 2017
The O’s would get on the board in the third, thanks to some sloppy fielding and the bat of former Rays’ farmhand Joey Rickard. Thankfully, Tampa Bay would hold Baltimore to one thanks to some slick fielding on the back end of the inning.
It’s not often the defense picks up the defense, but there ya go. It was that kind of night.
Adeiny Hechavarria committed his first error with the club on a hard hit ball by Welington Castillo, allowing the Baltimore catcher to reach first. Then, after a fly out, Rickard drove one toward the left-center gap. After the ball narrowly got past Corey Dickerson, Mallex Smith went to retrieve it at the wall, but lost his footing. This allowed Castillo to score all the way from first as Rickard coasted into second.
Back-to-back great defensive plays followed, as Beckham snagged a rocket off the bat of Seth Smith, then threw him out from his knees. Hech then redeemed his earlier error when Manny Machado hit a slow chopper to short. A nice pickup and a strong throw beat Machado by half a step and kept the second run off the board.
The Rays threatened again in the fifth, when Hech singled with one. (He would finish the night with four hits.) But back-to-back great plays by Rickard robbed the Rays of a scoring chance.
Really starting to not like that guy...
Turning Point! Except not the one you were expecting...
It looked like the Rays were finally going to break through in the sixth, when they loaded the bases with no outs on a single and two walks, chasing Tillman from the game.
Enter Miguel Castro, who promptly fell behind Wilson Ramos. But on a 3-1 sinker that was out of the zone, the Buffalo swung anyway, grounding to Machado at third, who started the ol’ 5-2-3 double play. A four pitch strike out of Beckham followed to end the threat, and you had the sinking feeling this was going to bite us in the butt.
It didn’t take long, as Joey Rickard (really???) turned around a 2-1 slider and hit it out to left.
The Point Where You Knew We Were Going to Lose
We have now entered the portion of the program where everyone, including Jake Faria’s mom (probably) was sure we were going to lose.
After the Rays wasted another Adny Hech single in the 7th, Jake jogged back out there to start the 7th. And everybody who moaned about the early hook Cobb had gotten earlier this week rejoiced! Because, yes, Faria was at 95 pitches, but he was fine. He’s only given up two hits! And no walks! (Nevermind the fact that he’d given up lots of loooooong flies, and the only reason he hadn’t walked anybody was 1. the zone was ridiculous and 2. the O’s wouldn’t let him. Do you really trust this bullpen?)
So of course Adam Jones doubled into the right field corner on an 0-2 pitch that wasn’t very 0-2ish, and Souza came up throwing with an empty hand to allow Jones to get to third. And then Mark Trumbo singled, and it was 3-2 O’s, and baseball sucks.
Looking for Silver Linings
Mychael Givens set the Rays down in order in the eighth, because of course he did. This game was over. As if to drive that point home, Cash turned the game over to Brad Boxberger. We’re toast!
And then Brad Boxberger struck out the side.
And he looked really good doing it!
He spotted his fastball, which touched 95. His change was effective, with a good 12-15 mph separation from the fastball. And it was also for strikes.
So even though we gave this one away, at least there’s that. If this is the Brad Boxberger we’re getting back, things are going to be okay.
But Then We Didn’t Lose
With two outs in the ninth, it was all over but the Gatorade bath. Cash sent up Shane Peterson to pinch hit for Trevor Plouffe against Brad Brach as the sacrificial lamb.
But Shane Peterson walked. Even fouled off a couple tough splitters to get there.
Then, with Hechavarria at the plate, Brach and Castillo seemed to have some kind of confusion with the signs. And in his confusion, Brach balked. Peterson trotted down to second, where he was quickly replaced by Peter Bourjos.
Next, on an 0-2 pitch, Brach bounced a slider in the dirt that got away from Castillo. Bourjos scampered over to third.
On the next pitch, Brach came in with fastball. Hech ripped his fourth single of the night into left field, scoring Bourjos.
Such an improbable tie.
And Then We Won
Darren O’Day came on to pitch the tenth. He walked Corey Dickerson, then retired Evan Longoria on a groundout. An intentional walk to Logan Morrison followed, bringing Steven Souza to the plate.
Souza absolutely annihilated a 3-2 non-slider from O’Day.
Alex Colome pitched the 10th for the Rays. He did get ambushed by Mark Trumbo for a leadoff homer, but looked better from that point forward, recording two strikeouts and a groundout.
- During the Seventh Inning Stretch, the Orioles did not have someone sing “God Bless America.” Instead, they had someone sing the far superior song “This Land is Your Land.” I don’t know if they always do this, or if it’s new, but I hope it catches on.
- After the Souza homer, Tim Beckham was lifted for pinch hitter Taylor Featherton. After the game, we found out it was because he had tweaked his left ankle during a swing. No word (yet) on the impact going forward.