We had this one. It was right. there. Until it wasn’t. Le sigh. The Rays lost 7-6 to the Orioles because they couldn’t catch the ball, couldn’t make clutch pitches when they needed it, couldn’t get the runner in in extras.
It didn’t help that they were playing shorthanded. Andrew Kittredge hit the IL, and wunderkind Wander Franco and on base machine Yandy Diaz were both out of the lineup nursing minor injuries. So who did we have? Well, let’s see.
Today's Rays pic.twitter.com/t7sCQw0aLr— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) May 22, 2022
It started so well! The Rays chased Baltimore starter Watkins in the first, but not in a way anybody likes to see. The inning started when new leadoff guy Kevin Kiermaier soft served an 1-2 cutter into center for a single. Next, with KK breaking, Arozarena lined a 2-2 fastball into center, putting runners at the corners. Choi followed by smoking a 1-1 fastball off Spencer Watkins arm/shoulder. The play scored KK and put runners on first and second, but more importantly, Watkins left without much of a protest. We hope he’s okay.
Orioles starter Spenser Watkins has to leave the game after getting hit by a comebacker off the bat of Ji-Man Choi. pic.twitter.com/K05OlnQnHR— Bally Sports Sun: Rays (@BallyRays) May 22, 2022
Former Ray Joey Krehbiel came on, and it did not go well. He got the first out when Ramírez flew out deep into the new left field cutout, advancing both runners. He got the second out when Randy was put out at home on the contact play after Bruján grounded sharply to first. But he did not get the third out against Paredes, who hammered a hanger out to left field.
Isaac Paredes: crusher of baseballs pic.twitter.com/NiSq0nFjan— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) May 22, 2022
Kluber battled his way through three innings. He allowed the first two Orioles to reach in the bottom of the first. He then retired the next two before grazing Rutschman on the shin to load the bases. The defense — which was actually really good early! — bailed out Kluber when Urías hit a tapper to short and Walls came up with a nifty barehanded play.
In the bottom of the second, Odor led off by doubling on an 0-2 pitch, then moved to third on a Zunino passed ball. But Kluber danced out of trouble again, striking out Robinson Chirinos, and getting foul outs from Mateo and Mullins.
Kluber again ran into trouble in the third, and this time did not escape unscathed. Santander started it by singling through the open left side, followed by a Mountcastle walk. Arozarena temporarily kept things in check with a diving grab near the left field line. But the Orioles finally broke through with an Urías single to left. 4-1 Rays. A double to right by Odor made it 4-2. Chirinos made a bid to tie the game, but Randy made his second sensational grab of the inning, going to his right and laying out for the sinking liner.
A dandy of a catch from Randy pic.twitter.com/R6XQwQ55vl— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) May 22, 2022
The Rays answered in the top of the fourth. Phillips drew a walk against new pitcher Bryan Baker. After a Zunino strikeout, Walls moved the man up with a ground out to second. And then the red hot Kevin Kiermaier singled the other way, scoring Phillips. 5-2 Rays.
Kluber was done after three, giving way to Jason Adam. Adam pitched around a walk to Mancini on his way to a scoreless fourth.
The Rays half of the fifth was uneventful, other than Cash getting tossed. Bill Welke — who had a puzzling zone all day — called out Choi looking on a borderline 3-2 strike. Choi voiced his displeasure, which led to Cash intervening quickly to save his first baseman. Bench coach Matt Quataro took over for Cash.
Wisler got the bottom of the inning. And I’m sorry, why? Ugh. A long fly by Mountcastle to left center eluded a leaping Kiermaier at the wall for a homer. 5-3 Rays. A Ruschman single to center. A pop out to Choi. And that was it for Wisler. Raley got the call to face the lefty Odor.
Raley coaxed a foul out, then got a grounder to a shifted Bruján, who booted it. A pop fly to left was more dramatic then it needed to be after a lack of communication led to Walls and Arozarena coming together before Walls made the catch.
Raley went back out for the sixth and Finally! we got a clean frame, including a nice strikeout of Santander on a gorgeous 0-2 slider that dotted the outside corner.
KK led off the seventh and hit a slow roller to first that somehow eluded Mountcastle, sending KK all the way up to second. The Rays took advantage, with Randy singling softly to left, scoring Kiermaier. 6-3 Rays!
JP Feyereisen pitched the seventh, and deserved better. After retiring the first two, he gave up a soft single to center. Odor followed by grounding to second, which Bruján booted (again). Urías then lined to Randy…who dropped it. The first run of the year was charged to JPF, though it was (obviously) unearned. 6-4 Rays with runners at the corners. Mateo popped out to Walls to end the inning.
In the eighth, Phillips smacked a one out double to right. He swiped third during Zunino’s at bat (which ended in a strikeout) and was ultimately stranded when Walls struck out after a long at bat.
Jalen Beeks got the call for the bottom of the eighth and worked a clean frame.
Ryan Thompson got the ninth. Why not Beeks for a second inning? I don’t know! And ... uuuuuuuh, I don’t have a good feeling about this!
KK was unable to make a sliding catch on Mountcastle’s sinking liner. Rutschman followed by popping to Walls. Thompson then walked Urías, bringing up Odor. On a 3-1 count, Thompson dropped the baseball while on the rubber for a balk. (Really???) But Thompson did get Odor to pop softly to third. Maybe we were gonna get out of this?
With darkening skies and a 1-2 count to pinch hitter Austin Hays, Marge left one middle middle that Hays roped into left. 6-6 game, and loud, heavy rain rolled in.
On came that tarps, and this brutal 4 hour game was going to take a little longer.
After a 50 minute delay, new pitcher Ralph Garza Jr. wild pitched Hays to second. Mateo then walked, before Mullins grounded to Bruján, who thankfully did not boot it this time.
With Harold Ramírez as the free runner on second, Bruján dropped a flare into left. Runners on the corners for Paredes. But Paredes was unable to get the man in, striking out on a four seamer upstairs. Franco then pinch hit for Phillips against the lefty Pérez. The move didn’t work out for the Rays, as Franco whiffed on a slider biting in. Zunino then grounded to third.
Dusten Knight took over for the Rays. With Mateo on as the free runner, the Rays intentionally walked Mancini. Knight got the first out, K’ing Santander on a nasty changeup. McKenna followed with a fly deep to left that would have won the game under the previous outfield configuration. As it was, it moved Mateo up to third for Rutschman. The rookie hit one deeeeeep to right, with Bruján making the grab on the track.
With Zunino as the free runner, Walls hit one almost into the gap that Santander ran down. Double unfortunate was that Zunino was caught in between and was therefore unable to tag up. KIiermaier struck out, and Arozarena was intentionally walked, and Choi drew a walk to load the bases. But Harold Ramírez hit a fliner out to center.
In the bottom of the eleventh, Owings bunted Rutschman over to third, bringing up Odor. Odor chopped it to a charging Choi, who was unable to come up with the scoop. 7-6 Orioles, ballgame.
The Rays are off tomorrow so they can think about what they’ve done.