After the blowout loss to the Blue Jays yesterday, the Orioles bounced back in a big way in a 7-1 win over division rival Tampa Bay Rays. The offense jumped off to a good start, scoring 6 runs in the first three innings, while Wei-Chen was perfect through 3 and held the Rays hitless through 4. It was the closest to a perfect performance from the O's this season, and the O's moved back to one game under .500 for the season.
The offense had no problems against Rays starter Chris Archer from the very first inning. After a single by Nelson Cruz and a walk to Chris Davis, Matt Wieters singled on a soft line drive to CF to score the first run of the game for the O's. The runs did not stop there. In the second inning, a fly ball popped out of Desmond Jennings's glove became a double for J.J. Hardy. After a groundout by Lombardozzi to advance Hardy to third, the Rays decided to play their infield in, and Ryan Flaherty blooped a single right over the drawn in Evan Longoria. It would have been an easy out had the infield stayed back, and Joe Maddon's decision early in a game cost the Rays at least one run. Cruz and Davis both doubled to score two more runs for the O's in the inning.
In the third inning, Wieters and Hardy both doubled to LF to score one run. Lombardozzi followed with a single through the middle infield to add one more run. The O's did tack on one more run in the 5th inning on three singles, but the score was 6-0 after three innings, and from the way Chen was pitching tonight, the game was essentially over.
Chen was brilliant tonight. He was perfect in the first three innings. He gave up his first baserunner of the game in a walk to Jennings. In the 5th inning, he gave up a double to James Loney to end his no-hitter bid. He allowed a single run in the sixth inning on two hits and a walk. He ended the night with 6.1 innings, 4 strikeouts, 2 walks, 5 hits and one run allowed. He did received some help from the defense. On the first play of the game, Flaherty fielded a sharp grounder from Ben Zobrist to get the first out of the game. In the second inning, Lombardozzi made a splendid diving play to end the inning.
Evan Meek and Darren O'Day both pitched scoreless innings to finish the game off for the O's, allowing a single baserunner respectively. It was the best performance I have seen from the O's this season, and one of the few wins that did not come with any suspense. The Orioles will face off Jake Odorizzi against tomorrow at 7.05 in hopes of claiming the series from the Rays.