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Rays 8, Orioles 2: Still a Lot of Fight in This Team

Tampa Bay Rays snap three-game losing streak and are back in the third wild card slot

Baltimore Orioles v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

Tonight’s game had all the essential elements of a good story including interesting characters, emotional conflict and satisfying resolution depending on your rooting interests.

The setting for tonight’s story was the dome many love to hate, Tropicana Field, with the Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles fighting for the third and final wild card slot in the American League with 50 games remaining after the conclusion of this game.

DL Hall was making his major league debut as the starting pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles and the Rays did their best to make it uncomfortable for him. In the bottom of the first Yu Chang drew the leadoff walk and advanced to third on a single from Randy Arozarena. Isaac Paredes hit a groundout to third that allowed Chang to score and gave the Rays an early 1-0 lead.

The Rays came into the game losing their last three straight games and have also lost the last three games started by Shane McClanahan. After only giving up a walk in the first inning, the Orioles found more success in the top of the second inning starting with a leadoff double from Ramon Urias. Two batters later Jorge Mateo singled to move Urias to third and then the feeling about the game started to shift.

Rougned Odor hit a ground ball to where a shortstop would be if the Rays were not defensively aligned in a shift. Due to the open space the weak ball rolled into left field to tie the game. McClanahan was visibly upset and depending on lip read interpretations, upset with explicit language at the shift allowing the hit to go through. In the next at-bat Robinson Chirinos hit a RBI-single to give the Orioles a temporary 2-1 lead. Given the Rays recent struggles it easily felt like this game was not going to end well but the team was down but not out.

The Rays fought on in the bottom of the third with another leadoff walk, this time from Walls. Yandy Diaz hit a ground ball to third that got Walls out for the first out of the inning. Randy Arozarena came up next and continued to love Orioles’ pitching and hit a double into center to tie the game. Paredes followed with a RBI-double to score Arozarena and Mejia kept the scoring going with a RBI-single to make it a 4-2 game. What a difference 1.5 innings can make to the feeling and momentum of a game.

Jose Siri stole the show in the bottom of the fourth inning. First, he hit a leadoff single to right field to give the Rays yet another leadoff baserunner. Then, he stole second on a close play that was ruled out on the field. The Rays challenged and the play was overturned as it was determined he maintained contact with the base. With the newbie on the mound, Siri decided he was also going to steal third and got a great running start to make it in safely. A Chang sac-fly scored Siri to extend the Rays lead to 5-2.

Hall finished his debut with 3.2 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 6K, and 0 HR on 76 pitches. Welcome to the show kid.

McClanahan displayed great resilience on the mound only allowing two walks and two singles in his last four innings pitched. He finished the game with 6.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 K and 0 HR on 100 pitches. He gets credit for his 11th win of the year. Additionally, the Rays are 11-0 when McClanahan starts and they score at least four runs.

The scoring continued in the bottom of the sixth inning for the Rays with Spenser Watkins on the mound for the Orioles. It started with the fourth of what would be six leadoff baserunners for the Rays as Siri hit a line drive single to left field. After advancing to second on a Taylor Walls flyout he scored on a RBI-single from Chang. Rays led 6-2 after six.

Things really heated up in the top of the eighth inning with Pete Fairbanks on the mound. With two outs and a runner on second former-Rays player Robinson Chirinos came to the plate. With a 2-2 count time was called very late as Fairbanks was beginning his delivery and he took offense to that. After striking out Chirinos with the next pitch, Fairbanks vocally shared his displeasure while walking back to the Rays dugout.

As Chirinos responded vocally, the Orioles bench for some reason decided it needed to clear. In the middle of the aggressive posturing was former Rays player Brett Phillips probably attempting to show his new allegiance, though, it’s unclear what he was saying during the moment. It had to be a very awkward moment for one the game’s nicest players.

Looking into Fairbanks’ eyes, I know I would not want any problem with Pete but the Orioles seemed to want to take their chances. Bless their fourth-place hearts.

For a Rays team that has been struggling maybe this will be an emotional spark that gets this team back to winning on a more regular basis.

Also, shoutout to Corey Kluber for being the OG in the dugout and being able to efficiently escort Fairbanks to the bench.

There still was one inning of baseball left after the benches cleared. The main highlight was Taylor Walls hitting a two-run homer (100.0 mph EV, 27 deg LA, 364 ft) to give us our final score of 8-2.

These two teams will battle for the series win tomorrow at 1:40pm ET. RHP Drew Rasmussen (6-4, 2.96) will start for the Rays opposite RHP Jordan Lyles (9-8, 4.35) for the Orioles. The Rays have a 0.5 game lead over the O’s for the final Wild Card spot and need to take full advantage of head-to-head matchups in order to secure an opportunity to play in the postseason.