Orioles 5, Rays 4: Bullpen to the rescue! (Not you, Strop)

Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Despite another underwhelming performance by Jake Arrieta, the Orioles win!

The Orioles and Rays celebrated Jackie Robinson day one day late this year, and the Orioles due to the off day yesterday, with all players wearing #42 in honor of him. Jake Arrieta made a strong case for why pitcher wins are stupid with a five-walk performance, and the O's offense got just enough runs to take home the victory.

Arrieta was not at his best tonight. Sure, he allowed just one run, so some might call it gutsy or something. I am going to call it lucky, and considering it resulted in another long night for the bullpen in this young season, it's a let down, even if I wasn't expecting much from Arrieta in the first place.

Let's dive into the action, shall we? It started on the very first pitch of the game, in probably the most efficient at bat of Arrieta's night. Rays' leadoff hitter Desmond Jennings cranked a home run deep to left field on the first pitch he saw, putting the Orioles behind (but only until the bottom of the inning). Shockingly, it was the only run that Arrieta allowed on the night.

After Jennings homered, Kelly Johnson came to plate and struck out. Yay! Of course, it took him thirteen pitches to do so. Boo! Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria made the final two outs of the inning, long fly balls that were hit pretty hard. It did not inspire confidence.

Nate McLouth led off for the O's tonight and he did something all good leadoff batters should do: he walked. Then he stole 2nd! Who does he think he is, Brian Roberts? That set the table for Manny Machado, who smoked a double to right-center field. It was gorgeous, and McLouth scored easily. Unfortunately Manny didn't score as Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, and Chris Davis all grounded out behind him.

Arrieta got right back to work in the second, giving up a leadoff single to Matt Joyce. Luckily for Jake, Joyce decided to try to steal second base and you know that you never run on Matt Wieters. Actually, the replay looked like he might have been safe, but earlier replays showed that Joyce probably should have been called out on a pickoff play at first base, so we'll call it even. At any rate, Wieters is now 5 out of 6 this season in catching would-be base stealers. Arrieta also walked James Loney but no further damage was done (other than his pitch count, of course).

The O's added another single run in the second inning courtesy of a Matt Wieters home run, his second of the season. It bounced on the top of the groundskeeper shed in right field and into the stands, and gave the Orioles a lead they wouldn't relinquish for the rest of the game (although they tried).

After Jake Arrieta pitched a scoreless top of the third that featured two walks and twenty-six pitches, the Orioles added on a third run in the bottom of the inning. Again McLouth got the rally started, this time with a double. He moved over to third base on a passed ball by Rays starter Roberto Hernandez, then scored on a weak single by Markakis that just squirted through the right side of the infield. Hernandez then got Adam Jones on a force out and struck out Chris Davis to end the inning. Davis swung at a lot of bad pitches tonight, and while you hate to see that, his strikeout did lead to this happening, which I enjoyed quite a bit:

Arrieta labored through two more innings, working around a leadoff double in the fourth and yet another walk in the fifth. He did strike out the side in the fifth (other than the walk, of course), but he went to three balls on two of them and threw 23 pitches in the inning.

Hernandez got the Orioles 1-2-3 in both the fourth and fifth innings, and Buck Showalter sent Arrieta back out to start the sixth inning. Troy Patton was warming in the bullpen, and it was obvious that Arrieta would only face Longoria. Shockingly (this is sarcasm), Arrieta walked Longoria and that was it for his night. He threw 112 pitches in five innings plus one batter. He only gave up one run and three hits, but he walked five with seven strikeouts. It was just a weird outing for him, and one that I didn't really enjoy. Patton replaced Arrieta and pitched a perfect inning, stranding Longoria at first.

The Orioles padded their lead in the bottom of the sixth, which is good since it turned out that they needed every run they scored tonight (spoiler!). Hernandez walked Markakis and then Adam Jones doubled to left field. With first base open, the Rays elected to intentionally walk Chris Davis. That brough Wieters to the plate, who struck out in a spectacular, flailing fashion. Oh, Matt.

J.J. Hardy tried to crush the rally with an inning ending double play, but the Longoria, who is usually frustratingly good at third base, threw the ball home and it was way off line. The catcher, Jose Lobaton, had to come off of the plate and barely caught it. Markakis was safe at home and there was no play to be made at first by the time Lobaton made the catch.

At that point Hernandez was pulled from the game in favor of Jamey Wright, who I'm pretty sure is at least 60 years old. He induced a groundout by Ryan Flaherty, but it went to second base and Jones was able to score the second run of the inning. Reimold struck out to end the inning and the rally, which certainly wasn't the prettiest rally I've ever seen.

After Patton retired Lobaton for the first out of the seventh inning, the Rays announced that pinch hitter Sean Rodriguez would bat for Sam Fuld. That prompted Showalter to bring in Pedro Strop, which proved to be a very bad idea indeed. Strop got two quick outs to end the seventh, but the real trouble started in the eighth, when Strop faced three batters and didn't get one out.

The first batter up was Kelly Johnson, who worked Strop for an eight-pitch at bat that ended up with the ball in the left field stands. It didn't get out by much, and the O's lead was cut to three runs. Strop walked Ben Zobrist, the second batter, which brought Longoria to the plate. Longo did a bad thing: he also homered (this was bad for the Orioles, but not for my HR derby team, but that is neither here nor there). That made the score 5-4 and it was the end of the line for Strop. Brian Matusz and Darren O'Day combined to clean up the mess, with Matusz retiring one batter and O'Day two (with an infield single sandwiched between them).

The O's went down quietly in the bottom of the eighth, which meant it was up to Jim Johnson in the ninth inning to seal the win. JJ never lets us down, and he got three quick groundouts to end the game. The last two were hit to Machado at third base, one of which was on a beautiful bare-handed play that Manny made, with the throw just getting the runner at first.

O's win! Tomorrow they face Matt Moore in game two of the series, with Chris Tillman on the mound for the Orioles.

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