Like the Rays offense, this recap is coming in a bit late and probably a bit short.
Yesterday was a roller coaster for Rays fans.
In the first inning, we held our breath as Shane McClanahan struggled to settle in. His first pitch was hit hard but caught for an out. He walked the next two batters. Ryan Mountcastle grounded to short for what seemed like a double play ball but Wander was slow to get the ball out of his glove and just got the force out. McClanahan struck out a now bearded Aaron Hicks to close the inning out and we exhaled.
Our ace then seemed to find his rhythm with clean and dominant second and third innings. To be sure, the offense was AWOL, stymied by Orioles top prospect Grayson “better than his ERA suggests” Rodriguez, with just a Siri infield hit preventing the dreaded no-hitter watch.
In postgame interviews, Shane could not explain why the wheels came off in the fourth inning. But they did, with the Orioles mounting a five run rally, nearly all with two outs and nearly every hit with two strikes on the batter. Indeed, the bases were loaded at one point with two outs, but number 8 hitter James McCann, with his .190 batting average came up, and I confidently said to my friend “well that should be a quick out.”
I apologize for my overconfidence, which is surely why McCann smoked a double that scored two runs. And the inning continued to deteriorate from that point.
Rays fans sat stunned as the section of Orioles fans behind the third base dugout, who had no doubt been hibernating since 2015, went wild. I started wondering whether I could convince my travel companion to leave after the seventh because this was too depressing to watch.
But I put a good face on things. “They’ll chip away at the lead!” I said, as I gulped down a huge, accessorized donut that they now sell at the stadium.
And wouldn’t you know, they did chip away.
Two runs in the sixth, one in the seventh, and two runs to tie in the eighth inning. Nice at bats and solid hits from Arozarena, Siri, B Lowe and Paredes. Their fatal mistake, though, was failing to take a lead in the eighth, because everyone knew they would see the Orioles closer Bautista in the ninth, and would be unlikely to score off of him.
Pete Fairbanks pitched the ninth with the goal of keeping the game tied, and he failed. But let me say, he pitched well, and sometimes baseball is gonna baseball. He gave up two hits, neither of which topped 80mph exist velocity. You could call that “a good piece of hitting” or “sometimes a team gets lucky” but it resulted in a Baltimore lead.
As predicted, the Rays got nothing in the ninth — at least Paredes made contact, good for him! And a loss.
Let’s take the series split today!