With today’s game, the Rays dropped a four game series to the Orioles, who now hold first place in the American League East.
The Orioles won three out of the four games. The run differential was one run.
If you are a neutral fan of exciting baseball, what a series! A battle for first. Every game close. Leads and comebacks. Home runs and small ball.
If you are a fan of the Rays, it was living hell. I’m not saying it would have been better to have lost three blowouts, but to have hope raised in each game and then dashed is quite the emotional journey.
This game started out inauspiciously. The Orioles leadoff man reached on an infield hit, and then Adley Rutschman doubled off a hanging curve and Baltimore had a lead. Bradley got his first out on a deep fly ball to Jose Siri, who unleashed a perfect throw to third base, which kept Rutschman at second base. At that point Taj Bradley lost the strike zone (BA had noted that his mechanics were off and Kyle Snyder apparently noticed that too, coming out to talk to the rookie) but he did eventually retire the side with a pop-up from Bearded Hicks. (An aside: I’d love to see a slide show of “players two months after leaving the Yankees to check out all the beards.) Despite giving up only one run it was not a great inning from Taj, 23 pitches thrown of which just two got whiffs.
And then it got worse. The Rays did get two outs in the top of the second, but then a single and a home run gave the Orioles a 3-0 lead. Once again, a hanging curve ball to Gunnar Henderson got hit out of the park, apparently the Oriole’s longest homer of the year.
And then it got better. Much like on Saturday, the Rays chipped away at the lead as Baltimore’s Wells lost some of his control. They manufactured a run in the fourth, and Yandy Diaz found his home run swing to tie things up in the fifth. Meanwhile Taj Bradley stopped hanging curve balls, keeping the Orioles off the scoreboard and indeed the base paths through the fifth inning.
And then it got worse. Again like yesterday, the Orioles retook the lead, this time with a solo homer from that pest, Ryan O’Hearn off of Colin Poche (and before you get worked up and start with the Fire Cash stuff, Poche has been terrific after a rocky early season).
Then it got still worse. The seventh inning started with a Paredes error on a ground ball that skipped up on him. After walking a batter, Jake Diekman was replaced by Jason Adam. Not the near perfect 2022 Jason Adam, but this year’s very human and inconsistent Jason Adam, who did get the second out but then gave up another dreaded 2-out RBI single to put Baltimore ahead 5-3.
The Rays offense had no answer for those runs, although somewhat miraculously they managed to get two singles off of the nearly flawless closer Bautista, but could not get that last hit to drive in the tying runs.