Over the course of a baseball season, you are going to end up watching a lot of forgettable baseball games, even from a good team. If it weren't for the peculiar circumstance of the Orioles playing Friday night's game as the home team at Tropicana Field, this one would have been one of those games, an entirely regrettable contest in which the Orioles only got four hits while striking out an eye-popping 13 times. They lost to the Rays, 2-0, bringing an end to the O's modest three-game winning streak.
Actually, the Rays only mustered four hits as well. Unfortunately for the O's, they clumped them together a little better, and also capitalized on one of the two walks issued by Orioles starter Chris Tillman. It wasn't a bad game by any stretch of the imagination for Tillman, who only allowed the two walks and three hits while working seven innings. He struck out seven batters.
Both runs scored with two outs in the fourth inning. Tillman retired the first two batters he faced there before issuing a walk to Asdrubal Cabrera. Still, two outs, no problem, right? In a better world, perhaps, but a Tillman nemesis, Evan Longoria, strolled up to the plate. Longoria came into the game with a .389/.436/.944 career batting line against Tillman in 39 plate appearances. Yowza.
Of course, Longoria is a good player and he has good numbers against many pitchers. That is something that stands out even considering, tough. I mean, a .944 slugging percentage? Geez. Little surprise that Longoria roped a double all the way to the wall in left field that easily scored Cabrera.
The next batter also struck while Tillman was a bit shaky. James Loney drove in Longoria with a single and the Rays were up 2-0 with the only runs they'd need in the game. After this point the Rays only got two hits. When you end up pitching a shutout, who needs 'em?
Rays starter Alex Colome was making his first big league appearance of the season after having missed the first month of the season while recovering with a bout of pneumonia. He needed only 60 pitches to set down the Orioles in five innings. They got three hits against him and that was hit. Colome was lifted after five despite such a low pitch count.
This decision worked out for the Rays, who got scoreless innings from four different relievers, culminating with Brad Boxberger striking out the side in the ninth inning to notch his sixth save of the season. The Orioles came into that ninth inning with a chance to get a walkoff win in the Trop. That would have been weird. Too weird for reality, at least tonight.
In a nice gesture, the Rays played Thank God I'm A Country Boy during the seventh inning stretch. This would have been a lot cooler if the Orioles hadn't left their bats back in Baltimore.
One curiosity in the game that seemed like it could matter quite a lot before the game ended up not mattering at all. The Orioles second baseman for the game was Steve Pearce. Any number of grotesque scenarios might come to mind when you ponder the concept, but as it turned out, Pearce's chances in the field were few enough and he didn't flub any of them.
A nincompoop tried to run on the Tillman/Caleb Joseph combination and was out by a mile. Pearce calmly applied the tag. The runner was actually Brandon Guyer, who probably is not a nincompoop in truth but was certainly displaying nincompoopery at that moment. Later, Pearce fielded an easy grounder to second and threw out the batter at first. He was also in the middle of a 5-4-3 double play, which he turned to first without incident. It's nice when it's the catcher running.
So it turns out that there are games where you can throw just anybody at second base and that works out fine. If only the Orioles had mustered any kind of offense whatsoever. None of their four hits were for extra bases and none of the four of them came in the same inning as one another.
Manny Machado had another one of his bad innings in the eighth inning. With Darren O'Day on the mound, Machado flubbed a no-out grounder from Guyer closing his glove a little too early. It was one of those tough-looking plays that we've been spoiled by Manny making. He didn't make it that time. This was scored a hit.
The next batter was the Rene Rivera double play. Talk about getting right back on the horse. With two outs, David DeJesus also grounded a ball in Machado's direction. He rushed the throw and it sailed over Chris Davis' head for his sixth error in only the Orioles' 21st game.
After this, MASN cameras saw Machado looking a little forlorn in the dugout. Machado's buddy Jonathan Schoop is with the team for the series, one advantage of playing a fake-home series so close to the Sarasota facility, and Schoop tossed his arm around Machado and was trying to make him feel better. Those two, aww. They're the best. I'm sure Manny will be fine. It didn't hurt the Orioles any tonight, anyway, so better to get the mistakes out of the way in games like that.
Davis and Alejandro De Aza both wore sombreros (three strikeouts) by the time the game was over.
The next of the home away from home games comes on Saturday with first pitch scheduled for 7:05. Chris Archer and Miguel Gonzalez are the scheduled starters.