There are those who like to assume that when a team at the top of the league plays the team at the bottom of the league, that will be a sure-bet win. Those people have probably never watched baseball, because in baseball there’s never a “sure thing.” As the Rays took on the Orioles for the first game of the weekend series, not far from the house where Babe Ruth was born, the O’s sure managed to keep the Rays on their toes.
It was Matt Harvey on the mound to start things off for the O’s, and the Rays took him to task early, hoping to set the tone for the rest of the game. With two outs, Franco took a walk to extend his on-base streak to 27 games, a Rays rookie record. Meadows then singled to send Franco to third. Diaz singled to score Franco, and the Rays had the first score of the game. Wendle singled, loading the bases, and then a Margot single scored Meadows and Diaz, putting the Rays up 3-0 in the top of the first. In the bottom of the inning Shane McClanahan toed the rubber for the Rays and the O’s quietly went 1-2-3.
The second was quiet in the score department as the Rays went down in order, and on the O’s side of the inning Santander got a leadoff single, but Urias grounded into a one-out double play to end the inning.
The Rays once again went 1-2-3 in the top of the third, and the Orioles got a little life in the bottom of the inning with a two-out single from Guiterrez, but it was for naught as the inning ended with the next at-bat.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one, but the Rays again went 1-2-3 to lead off the inning, and this time around the O’s quest for zest paid off in their half. Mancini singled, then with two outs Kays hit a two-run homer to bring the Orioles within one run. Urias singled and Santander doubled, but no further runs scored so the Rays limped their way out of the inning still in the lead.
I promise they’re not all like this, but in the fifth, the Rays went 1-2-3. Mullins got a one-out single for the Orioles but was the only baserunner for the inning, and no runs scored. As you might have guessed, in the sixth inning the Rays went 1-2-3. In the bottom of the inning Hays singled, and Urias reached on a hit by pitch, but no runs scored. This was also the end of the night for McClanahan, whose final line was 6.0 IP, 8 H, 2 E, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 HR on a tidy 78 pitches.
In the seventh the Rays finally did something other than going down in order. Sweet! Margot took first on a hit-by-pitch with one out. Kiermaier walked to put two men aboard. Then look who it is, Mr. Mike Zunino. Do you know what Mike Zunino does best? He hits home runs friends, that’s what. And lo and behold, what did he do here? He hit a home run, putting the Rays up 6-2. Well done, Mike.
Even the deepest part of the ballpark couldn't contain this 453' blast pic.twitter.com/3oUy1cj2VF— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) August 28, 2021
In the bottom of the inning the O’s got a baserunner thanks to a Franco throwing error that allowed Mullins to safely reach first. No runs scored, however.
Back to our regularly scheduled programming as the Rays went 1-2-3 to lead off the eighth. Mazza continued in relief here and managed to hit Santander with a pitch, but Hays hit into a fielder’s choice to erase the free baserunner. Urias singled, but no runs would ultimately score.
For the last time in this game, the Rays went 1-2-3 to lead off the ninth. I was then burned by writing the conclusion of this recap before the game actually ended, as Mullins hit a solo home run. The Rays managed to get out of the rest of the inning without issue so I do not need to re-write this recap again. Rays win!
Final: Rays 6, Orioles 3