The Orioles hit four home runs in Sunday's game and still lost to the Rays by four runs. That kind of failure takes an impressive level of dedication to the craft of playing an awful baseball game. When you get five runs, all from home runs, and you still lose 9-5, you really have to work at it.
One-time staff ace Chris Tillman led the charge on Sunday afternoon, managing to fail the Matusz Test even though he came into the game with an ERA of 5.59. Again, you really have to work at being bad enough to raise an ERA that high. He was up to that task and then some. Boy, was he.
It was actually the O's who scored first in the game. Delmon Young, who, in extremely limited action, had the number of Jake Odorizzi heading into the game, came up to the plate with no one on and two outs. This decision was strange to begin with. Who bats a guy who's slugging .330 in the third spot in the order? Well, with Adam Jones out for the second straight game - the first time that had happened since September 2011 - there aren't really any other choices.
Anyway, Delmon. Odorizzi left him a pitch that Young absolutely smashed, the kind of titanic moonshot flyball that soars a long, long way away and leaves everyone who witnessed it feeling a sense of awe. Young blasted that Odorizzi ball all the way into the back of the Rays bullpen out beyond left-center field. That was cool. Young's home run was measured at 455 feet, which would make it the longest O's home run of the year.
The Orioles led 1-0 through one inning.
Protip: Don't walk .069 hitters
The lead did not last for long. Tillman intervened, as is his wont. He gave up a leadoff double in the top of the second inning to Logan Forsythe, and after managing to get two outs, Tillman proceeded to issue a two-out walk to Nick Franklin. Here's the thing about Franklin. He was highlighted in MASN's "Who's Hot/Not" segment at the beginning of the game for being decidedly Not. He was in an 0-21 slump to start the game. He's now in an 0-24 slump and he's batting .069 on the season.
How do you walk that guy? I don't know, but Tillman did. Next up was Bobby Wilson, the Rays' day game after a night game catcher, who entered the day batting a torrid .152. That's the guy you get... unless you're an Orioles pitcher, in which case you actually give up the game-tying single to right field.
As Young went to field the ball in right, a herd of farm animals stormed out of the gate in the corner of the field and started trampling all over the place. That being the case, you can understand why Young fired a ball in the general direction of third base that missed its target by four feet.
With goats bleating and running everywhere, you can also understand why Manny Machado didn't come off the bag to try to catch the errant throw, and, as a result of the angry steer bucking wildly up the left field line, it's totally understandable why no one was backing up the play. Franklin scored on the play and the Orioles trailed 2-1.
The game did not pause to allow the grounds crew to corral the animals because there were not actually any animals on the field. Maybe it was more of a shared hallucination that caused the Orioles to play that terribly.
Young destroys Odorizzi a second time
The third inning saw Young face Odorizzi again. There was little difference in the outcome. This time Young smashed a pitch into the left field seats. He has Odorizzi's number. Young had yet to homer this season before today; he probably wishes he could see more of Odorizzi. This knotted the game at 2-2.
In an unexpected twist, Tillman kept the game tied for a whole inning, stranding Steven Souza Jr. in the fourth even though Souza hit a leadoff double and stood on third base with only one man out. That's the way to do it!
Unfortunately, that didn't last another inning. Tillman got two outs before issuing a walk to his personal nemesis Evan Longoria. This is not the worst outcome, given that Longoria came into the day having faced Tillman 42 times and he has a 1.400 OPS, including six home runs, in those appearances. David DeJesus followed with a cheap little grounder to second that Ryan Flaherty was able to glove with a dive but couldn't flip to the base in time.
No big deal... just get the next guy. Or let the next guy hit a bloop single to left-center, scoring Longoria. Okay, so one run crossed, but if you can just get out of the jam... no. There was no getting out of the jam. Souza blasted Tillman for a three-run home run and just like that, the Orioles trailed 6-2.
Tillman exits unceremoniously
Just for good measure, Tillman gave up a hit to the next batter, Asdrubal Cabrera, before being bounced from the game. He pitched only 4.2 innings and still managed to give up nine hits and three walks in that time. He allowed six runs, five of which were earned. In ten starts this year, he has gone six or more innings only four times. The Orioles really need him to figure out what is going wrong.
In five home starts this year, Tillman has a 7.50 ERA. His road ERA isn't much better at 4.66. Yikes.
Chaz Roe followed Tillman and kept the Rays from adding any more runs, striking out four of the five hitters he faced. Oliver Drake came after Roe. DeJesus welcomed Drake to the game with a home run on the first pitch Drake threw. That's always fun. The Rays touched up Drake for another run in the eighth inning and then got one more run against Brian Matusz in the ninth inning. Matusz faced five batters. Three of them safely reached. He was spared further pain by Cabrera getting thrown out on the basepaths like a nincompoop (TOOTBLAN).
What this set up is the rare baseball game that featured the same player hitting two different Eff You Home Runs. An FUHR, coined by former Camden Chatter Andrew Gibson, is any home run hit by the losing team where, at the time it's hit, you know there's no chance the losing team will win. Machado hit a two-run home run in the seventh, chasing Odorizzi from the game at last, which pulled the Orioles within three runs - but with how bad they were hitting you knew the game was over.
Leading off the ninth inning with the Orioles now trailing 9-4, Machado launched his second home run of the game to pull it back to 9-5, which, again, definitely counts as an FUHR. Machado now has eight homers on the season. That part is cool, I guess.
The Orioles had another one of those games where they barely had any at-bats with runners in scoring position - only four today, and they got no hits in any of those situations. The Rays, on the other hand, who had 15 hits on the day, had 18 at-bats with RISP and went 5-for-18.
With this Rays series concluded, the Orioles exit the Eastern time zone for the first time this season, heading to Houston to start a four-game series on Monday. The probable starting pitchers for the scheduled 8:10 start are Ubaldo Jimenez and Brett Oberholtzer.