Since it was a day of the week ending in “Y,” the Rays decided to play a one-run game on Wednesday. Unlike Tuesday night when Young Willy ensured they would be on the winning side of the ledger, Wednesday’s performance couldn’t quite get them there.
The action started early, as the top of the Orioles lineup jumped on back-to-back pitches from Rays Opener Ryne Stanek. Ex-Ray Tim Beckham left the yard first, and Adam Jones quickly followed suit.
The Tampa Bay offense picked up Stanek right away, though, with My Man Mallex (aka Mallex International Speedway aka Nothing But Respect for My Leadoff Hitter aka Mr. Chain aka Mr. Reach and Steal) getting on base, as he has been wont to do of late. He’s hitting .306 out of the leadoff spot this season, and as the Dewayne and BA pointed out in the broadcast, his on-base percentage when leading off an inning was .484 even before Wednesday.
After a Duffy lineout, Smith stole second, moving to third on one of what would be the first of many Orioles errors on the night. A seeing-eye single from Jake Bauers then found its way through the shift, as the Rays cut the lead to 2-1. Bauers looked to steal second, and even though the throw had him beat, Beckham dropped the ball, an error that proved costly when Certified Cleanup Hitter Joey Wendle flared one into left to score Bauers and tie up the game.
Stanek came out in the second and shut the O’s down, and his eight batters faced gave us a nice, clean 200 hitters faced by The Opener so far:
Rays Opener stats
|4/8/18||Andrew Kittredge||2.00||8||1||1||2||0||4.50||1.000||L 7-8 @BOS|
|5/4/18||Andrew Kittredge||2.00||9||1||1||2||1||4.50||1.500||W 6-2 TOR|
|5/19/18||Sergio Romo||1.00||3||0||3||0||0||0.00||0.000||W 5-3 @LAA|
|5/20/18||Sergio Romo||1.33||6||0||3||0||2||0.00||1.500||L 2-5 @LAA|
|5/25/18||Sergio Romo||0.67||5||1||1||2||0||13.51||3.003||L 0-2 BAL|
|5/26/18||Ryne Stanek||1.67||5||0||3||0||0||0.00||0.000||W 5-1 BAL|
|5/27/18||Sergio Romo||0.33||4||3||0||2||1||81.08||9.009||W 8-3 BAL|
|5/31/18||Ryne Stanek||1.33||6||2||0||1||1||13.50||1.500||L 3-7 @OAK|
|6/1/18||Sergio Romo||1.33||5||0||0||0||1||0.00||0.750||L 3-4 @SEA|
|6/6/18||Jonny Venters||0.33||6||5||1||3||2||135.14||15.015||L 2-11 @WAS|
|6/7/18||Ryne Stanek||1.00||6||0||2||1||2||0.00||3.000||L 4-5 SEA|
|6/12/18||Ryne Stanek||2.00||6||0||3||0||0||0.00||0.000||W 4-1 TOR|
|6/16/18||Ryne Stanek||1.33||5||0||1||1||0||0.00||0.750||L 1-4 @NYY|
|6/18/18||Ryne Stanek||1.67||5||0||0||0||0||0.00||0.000||L 4-5 @HOU|
|6/22/18||Ryne Stanek||1.00||5||0||1||1||1||0.00||2.000||W 2-1 NYY|
|6/28/18||Ryne Stanek||1.67||7||0||3||0||2||0.00||1.200||L 0-1 HOU|
|6/30/18||Ryne Stanek||1.00||4||0||2||1||0||0.00||1.000||W 5-2 HOU|
|7/4/18||Matt Andriese||2.00||9||0||3||1||2||0.00||1.500||L 0-3 @MIA|
|7/6/18||Ryne Stanek||2.00||8||0||4||1||1||0.00||1.000||L 1-5 @NYM|
|7/10/18||Ryne Stanek||2.00||7||0||2||1||0||0.00||0.500||W 5-2 DET|
|7/11/18||Hunter Wood||1.00||5||0||2||2||0||0.00||2.000||W 4-2 DET|
|7/15/18||Ryne Stanek||2.00||8||1||3||2||0||4.50||1.000||L 7-11 @MIN|
|7/21/18||Ryne Stanek||1.00||5||0||1||1||1||0.00||2.000||L 2-3 MIA|
|7/23/18||Hunter Wood||2.00||9||1||2||2||1||4.50||1.500||W 7-6 NYY|
|7/25/18||Ryne Stanek||1.00||4||0||2||1||0||0.00||1.000||W 3-2 NYY|
|7/26/18||Hunter Wood||1.66||7||0||3||1||1||0.00||1.205||W 4-3 @BAL|
|7/28/18||Ryne Stanek||2.00||9||3||1||2||2||13.50||2.000||L 2-11 @BAL|
|7/31/18||Ryne Stanek||1.00||5||0||1||1||1||0.00||2.000||W 10-6 LAA|
|8/2/18||Hunter Wood||2.00||7||0||5||1||0||0.00||0.500||W 4-2 LAA|
|8/3/18||Ryne Stanek||1.67||5||0||5||0||0||0.00||0.000||L 2-3 CHW|
|8/5/18||Hunter Wood||1.67||9||1||3||2||2||5.39||2.395||L 7-8 CHW|
|8/8/18||Ryne Stanek||2.00||8||2||4||2||0||9.00||1.000||L 4-5 BAL|
[This is still using the “fewer than 10 batters faced” rule to define an Opener]
After all that action early on, the game settled into a lull, with the only run between the first and seventh innings being a solo shot from Mark Trumbo off Jalen Beeks.
Beeks was boringly good on the night (which is actually a very good thing, even if it sounds like an insult), racking up five innings and allowing just the one run on two hits. He struck out three and walked two.
Of course, the Rays let O’s starter Andrew Cashner get in a groove again, making one of the worst pitchers in baseball look incredibly competent yet again. Here are three lines strictly made to upset you (Cashner’s last three outings):
6.0 IP 5 H 2 ER 3 BB 2 SO vs. TB
1.2 IP 7 H 10 ER 3 BB 1 SO vs. TEX
7.0 IP 4 H 1 ER 1 BB 2 SO vs. TB
Of course, the Rays may have only gotten one earned run of Cashner, but the Orioles defense was doing everything they could to help the Rays out. The seventh inning, in particular, and Tim Beckham - poor Tim Beckham - in the seventh inning in super particular, did more to help the Rays than the actual Rays offense did to help the Rays.
With one out, Cashner hit Carlos Gomez with a pitch, and Kevin Kiermaier appeared to ground into what should’ve at least been a force out at second, if not a double play. However, Beckham seemed thrown off by his position in the shift, and he missed the base entirely, putting men on first and second. The very next batter, Willy Adames, hit a routine grounder to Beckham, who lost his footing on the throw, allowing Adames to reach on an infield hit.
Then — and this is where you’re going to think I’m just messing with you — Michael Perez popped one into shallow left, and Beckham made the routine grab, but his momentum was going the wrong way, and he didn’t seem to think Gomez would tag on such a shallow pop up. Gomez had other thoughts, flying into home with delirious (and hustle-filled) glee.
No clean unis for Carlos.— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) August 9, 2018
Tie game.#RaysUp pic.twitter.com/Q1hq59ys9s
Now, that one was probably more on the left fielder than Beckham, but man, it was a rough inning for the ex-Ray.
The next inning the Rays got into the tasty, tasty Orioles bullpen, and it didn’t take long for that to pay off, as Matt Duffy hit a leadoff single, and, after a Bauers’ K, Cleanup Wendle ripped one up the middle to put guys on first and second. After a C.J. pinch-hit strikeout, Gomez dropped a blooper in front of Danny Valencia in right, scoring Duffy to give the Rays the 4-3 lead. (It ended up not mattering but Gomez got to second with a sweet swim move that avoided what should have been a very easy Tim Beckham tag. It was honestly painful to watch the ex-Ray on this night.)
That gave the Rays a one-run edge going into the ninth, as they handed the ball over to the man who has been bulletproof the last two months: Sergio Romo.
In fact, since the calendar turned to June, Romo has appeared in 30 games, starting one, finishing 19, and sporting a miniscule 1.21 ERA. He’s allowed a .180/.224/.250 slash line over that time.
Wednesday proved he is human after all.
First it was a hard-hit single to left from Trumbo. Then a liner to second from Valencia. After Joey Rickard pinch-ran and stole second, it left first base open with no one out and a one-run lead. Romo even fell behind 3-0 in the count, but the Rays chose not to put Trey Mancini on first (Cash Considerations have been quiet this season, but that was ringing alarm bells even before hindsight being 20/20 and all), and he made them pay. He lashed a two-run double just past the diving Smith in left, giving the O’s the 5-4 lead. Alvarado came on and locked things up, only making the non-intentional walk all the more frustrating.
Of course, this was the Orioles, so the game wasn’t over yet. In the bottom of the ninth, the Rays made things fun with two outs. Or actually: The Orioles defense made things fun.
With two outs and no one on, Mallex Smith hit a routine grounder to second. However, thanks to the Orioles fourth error of the night — and some awesome wouldn’t-have-blamed-you-if-you-weren’t-sprinting hustle — Smith reached first before Villar got the ball there after his bobble. Smith then stole second and moved to third on the fifth (FIFTH!) Oriole error of the game. However, on the very next pitch, Duffy lined out to second, giving the Orioles a win they truly deserved, he said very sarcastically.
If we were in a pennant race, this win would be an absolute killer. So I guess it’s good thing the AL East is a blood bath this year?
The Rays will look to still take the series from Baltimore when the two meet at 7:10 Thursday evening.