After hitting their way to a 2-0 record, the Orioles' bats fell silent in their attempt to sweep the Rays. Miguel Gonzalez pitched well, but Jake Odorizzi was better, and the Birds came up short in a pitchers' duel to suffer their first loss.
Odorizzi pretty much blew the O's away in the top of the first, recording two K's with a weak foul-out by Steve Pearce sandwiched between them. In the bottom of the inning, Gonzalez struggled, giving up singles to Steven Souza and Asdrubal Cabrera before walking Evan Longoria to load the bases. Desmond Jennings hit a sharp grounder to Ryan Flaherty that looked like a 6-4-3 double play, but Jennings was called safe at first. Buck wasn't convinced, challenged the play, and the call was correctly overturned. There may be only one second baseman in baseball who turns that double play, and luckily for us Jonathan Schoop is that guy.
Both teams went 1-2-3 in the second, and the Birds finally got to Odorizzi in the 3rd but couldn't cash in. Ryan Lavarnway doubled in his first Orioles at-bat, and Schoop was hit on the elbow with a pitch to put two runners on with one out, but Alejandro de Aza hit a hard liner right at Steven Souza and Pearce struck out to end the potential rally. Meanwhile, Gonzalez worked out of a similar 1st-and-2nd jam in the bottom of the inning, punctuated with an inning-ending strikeout of Evan Longoria.
The bottom of the 4th gave us our first ridiculous Manny Machado play of the year - Machado fielded a ball deep behind 3rd base, spun, and threw an absolute rocket to first. Logan Forsythe was called out initially, but the initial replays showed him beating the throw by a half step. Looking more closely, however, his foot actually appeared to land short of the base, so the out call ended up standing and the inning was over.
Both pitchers continued to cruise, and nobody had a runner in scoring position until the bottom of the 6th, when Gonzalez walked both Longoria and Jennings with 2 outs and was replaced by Brian Matusz. Gonzo ended up cobbling together a nice start, but his pitch count caught up to him thanks to a 33-pitch first inning.
Matusz has publicly said he doesn't want to be traded from Baltimore, and the best way to avoid being dealt is to pitch so poorly that your trade value becomes nonexistent. He nibbled away at the outside corner like a baby mouse, walking pinch hitter Brandon Guyer, then walking Logan Forsythe to bring home the first run of the game. As if to taunt us, he struck out pinch hitter Tim Beckham swinging to end the inning, but the damage was done.
Jason Garcia made his debut in the 7th and didn't pitch badly - he struggled with his command a little and walked Souza with two outs, but a strong throw from Lavarnway caught the former National stealing second, and the third video review of the day confirmed the call.
In the bottom of the 8th, Brad Brach entered the game and allowed a double to Longoria with one out. Desmond Jennings singled to center and a bizarrely weak throw by Adam Jones allowed Longoria to score, although he probably would have scored anyway. The short throw also enabled Brach to cut down Jennings on his attempt to take an extra base. Wesley Wright needed one pitch to finish off the inning, and the Orioles had one last shot to erase the two-run deficit.
It wouldn't happen. Interim closer Brad Boxberger allowed a shift-beating infield single to Alejandro de Aza, but struck out the next three O's in order. The Orioles finished with only three hits and never had a runner past second base. On the bright side, Gonzalez made some great pitches, Lavarnway had a solid debut, and Jason Garcia didn't look too overmatched in his first appearance above A-ball. Most importantly, the Birds took the first series of the year and head into the home opener with a winning record.