I have started writing recaps prior to the 8th inning as you just never know with this team. But despite a rocky 9th inning for O’s closer Felix Bautista in which the first two batters for the Rays reached base and the lead run came to the plate, the Orioles escaped Tuesday night with a victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.
In what was bound to be a fun pitching matchup the Rays sent Zach Eflin, their highest paid free agent ever, to the mound to face Grayson Rodriguez, the O’s top pitching prospect.
Rodriguez, a 23-year-old right hander for the O’s, delivered 5.2 solid innings allowing just two runs on seven hits and a pair of walks. Both runs came via solo shots by Wander Franco and Taylor Walls.
Those two runs were the only runs that the Rays would score.
Wander’s blast came in the first inning to give the Rays a 1-0 lead.
Can we interest you in a Wander Franco home run? pic.twitter.com/EpNCYXSAEu— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) May 9, 2023
Franco would finish the night 2-5 with a homer, single, and stolen base.
Walls’ blast came in the 5th inning and cut the Rays deficit to just two runs.
Walls gets one back! #RaysUp pic.twitter.com/q5KWc2VbzD— Bally Sports Sun: Rays (@BallyRays) May 9, 2023
The Rays offense combined for eight hits, but left nine runners on base and went 0-7 with RISP. The only other Rays player with multiple hits was Luke Raley, who went 2-3 with a pair of singles.
On the bump, Zach Eflin opened with two scoreless frames, but allowed three runs to cross in the third inning and another run to score in the fourth inning.
Gunnar Henderson started the inning with a leadoff triple and later score on a groundout from Jorge Mateo. A two-run shot off the bat of Adley Rutschman would extend the lead to 3-0. The homer was his fifth of the year.
In the fourth, The O’s scratched across another run on an RBI single from Austin Hays.
Eflin’s final line: 6 IP / 7 H / 4 ER / 1 BB / 4 K
Rodriguez was credited with the win, his second of the year. Eflin took loss, his first of the year.
The Rays will look to take their third series in a row to begin the month of may prior to heading to New York for a four game set agains the Yankees.