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Rays 4 Orioles 3: Walk it off, Willy!

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Tampa Bay comes from behind to defeat Baltimore

Baltimore Orioles v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Rays beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-3 on a walk-off home run by Willy Adames. But this game seemed to have several chapters before it sailed to its happy conclusion. There was the “Tyler Glasnow is dominant” chapter, there was the “Rays can’t do more than roll over on Cobb breaking balls” chapter, there was the “ah, THIS is why the Orioles are in last place” chapter followed by the “Willy is our hero” chapter.

Let’s take them one by one.

Chapter 1

The Rays starter today was Tyler Glasnow, one of the players coming to the Rays in the Chris Archer trade. Because Glasnow had been used as a reliever, the Rays are gradually stretching him out to return to a starting role; his expected limit today was around four innings or 60 pitches.

You may have noticed from this piece that the DRB folks are excited about Mr. Glasnow, whose potential tantalized prospect evaluators and Pirates fans. Tonight we got to see why. In the first two innings he struck out 5 of 6 batters on 98 mph fastballs that, according to “perceived velocity” metrics look even faster, and a curve in the low 80s that that would be hard to hit if you looking for the heat. The Orioles got their first baserunner with two outs in the third when Caleb Joseph singled and stole second. But Glasnow came back to strike out Jonathan Villar on four pitches, the first three 97/98 mph fastballs and the last an 86 mph slider that could not be hit.

But then that 98 dipped to 96 for a few fateful pitches against Tim Beckham to lead off the fourth, and TBex took him deep for a solo homer. Yeah, Timmy, we miss you too. At the end of four Glasnow had struck out 9 and, noteworthy given his rep as a guy with control issues, walked none. I’m not saying that a stretched out Glasnow is going to have a k/bb ration of 9 – 0 across 7 inning games on a routine basis, but if he can do just some of this we are going to love watching him.

Here are some reactions toTaylor Glasnow’s outing:

But for Glasnow’s performance to translate into a Rays win, two things need to happen. His teammates need to hit. And the pitchers following him need to keep the Orioles off the scoreboard.

Chapter 2

Let’s move to chapter two, in which the Rays try to hit the baseball as thrown by Alex Cobb.

The Rays did get on the board early, stringing together three singles in the first to plate a run and take the lead. However, if the goal tonight was to make the Orioles feel good about the $50 million they’ve invested in Alex Cobb, mission accomplished.

My colleague JT Morgan says Cobb didn’t have great stuff, and I believe him, but that makes it almost worse that the Rays were incapable of squaring up on almost anything. Completing seven innings and yielding just five hits (all singles) and two walks, Cobb turned in his best outing of the 2018 season. He induced nine ground balls, with Rays hitters seeming to roll over his break pitches with little show for it.

Meanwhile, Glasnow’s successors on the mound did not meet his level of excellence. Jaime Schultz’s fourth pitch to lead off batter Trey Mancini was a 94 per hour fastball over the plate that got taken deep to give Baltimore a 2-1 lead. His third pitch to Renato Núñez hit him in the shoulder. He got out of that inning, but picked up where he left off in the sixth, opening with a walk to Tim Beckham and a double to Adam Jones to put runners on second and third with no one out. A Trumbo single knocked in Beckham. Fortunately the Rays kept the deficit from getting too large; Schultz struck out Chris Davis and the infield was able to convert a Trey Mancini grounder into a double play. My friend JT Morgan says that Schultz’s fundamental problem this year is failure to command his fastball; he doesn’t get whiffs on his secondary stuff so if he doesn’t know where the fastball is going it’s a long night.

Adam Kolarek replaced him in the seventh. He got out of a jam in the eighth; Jonathan Villar doubled and moved to third on a grounder. He tried to score on another ground ball, but Matt Duffy threw home to nab him. Villar was initially ruled safe, but a replay showed pretty clearly that Perez had applied that tag before Villar’s leg had touched the plate.

Chapter 3

We then move on to chapter three, in which the Rays ability to keep the deficit manageable pays off as the Orioles combine poor pitching with defensive errors to let the Rays back into the game. Mallex Smith drew a walk against reliever Evan Phillips. Matt Duffy then hit a ground ball to first baseman Chris Davis that was clear double play material. But Davis threw wide to second base, and both runners were safe. I guess Davis hasn’t heard that defense never slumps.

Phillips then walked Jake Bauers and bases were loaded with none out. When Phillips yanked a slider that his catcher could not corral, Mallex Smith sped home from third base. 3-2 Orioles. A walk to Cron reloaded the bases, still with no outs, and that was the end of Mr. Phillips’ evening. Paul Fry, a lefty, replaced him, leading Kevin Cash to pull Joey Wendle in favor of right handed hitting Carlos Gomez. Gomez grounded out and this time the Orioles managed the double play, but on the play Duffy scored the tying run from third. So the Rays managed two runs in the eighth without a single hit, tying the score.

Chapter 4

Let’s turn now to the final chapter. Adam Kolarek and the tireless Sergio Romo got the Rays through the top of the ninth.

Then came the bottom of the ninth. First we had the tease. Michael Perez hit what appeared to be, from the Fox sports camera angle, a walk off homer. But the camera angle fooled us, it was actually foul by a few feet. Ultimately it was just a long strike. Showalter went back to his bullpen for a righty, Miguel Castro, to face Willy Adames. Castro is known as a sinker ball pitcher, usually not the guys who give up home runs, but this sinker did not sink and Willy got it all.

One of my favorite parts of the walk off? In her postgame intervew, Michelle Margaux asked Adames what he was thinking when he came up to bat. I was waiting for the standard “trying not to do too much” or “just trying to make contact.” But that’s not what we got. “I was trying to hit a home run” said Adames.

And indeed you did, Willy!