Another completely and totally winnable game that the Orioles absolutely ought to have won slipped away from the Orioles. This as MASN hilariously and rather pathetically attempts to bang the wild card drum. Maybe this agonizing 7-6 loss at the hands of the Rays on Sunday afternoon will be the thing that finally puts the nail in the coffin of them talking about that as something that could possibly happen.
The Orioles should have won. They should have pulled back to within a game of .500 after the brutal stretch that saw them sink so far below it. A lot of things should have happened. What did happen is that Kevin Gausman wasted an early lead that he was gifted by Chris Davis's 43rd home run of the season, screwing around with the wrong hitters after getting two easy outs in the fifth inning - after cruising for the most part up until that point. One more bad pitch later and Logan Forsythe had a three run home run, an Orioles lead turned into an Orioles deficit.
The Orioles did not fold up the tents and leave at this point in the game, although it feels like we have seen them do so many times this season. In fact, they got the run back the very next inning, an unlikely clutch hit from Paul Janish of all people, which tied the game, at this point, at four runs apiece. This against Rays starter Jake Odorizzi, who has been solid this season.
Four runs should be enough on most days - except for Gausman against what has been by far the weakest offense in the AL East all season, it was not.
With the way the Orioles bullpen has performed this season, you will like their chances when they can line up Brad Brach, Darren O'Day, and Zach Britton. That trio looked to be lined up if only the Orioles could score again. Brach started off by holding the Rays scoreless in the seventh.
The Orioles followed by grabbing two runs in the eighth inning, taking advantage of an Evan Longoria error that led to both runs crossing the plate unearned. Longoria went down to get a sharp ground ball off the bat of Janish and simply didn't come up with it. This play scored Steve Pearce, who had walked, from first base, and Gerardo Parra followed with a bloop single that allowed Janish to score in a close play at the plate. This gave the O's a 6-4 lead with six outs left to get. Again, you had to like their chances.
As it turned out, it wasn't O'Day in the eighth today, with Mychal Givens appearing instead. Presumably O'Day needed some rest after his use in recent games. Givens did not have his best outing. He started things off by walking Forsythe, and the tying run ended up on first base after a James Loney single. Pinch hitter Asdrubal Cabrera plated the fifth Rays run with a sacrifice fly and things didn't look any better after the pesky Kevin Kiermaier doubled into the right field corner, which thankfully did not allow pinch runner Nick Franklin to score from first.
From here, against the bottom of the Rays lineup, Givens finally got things done, striking out both J.P. Arencibia and Tim Beckham to snuff out the rally. The Orioles carried a 6-5 lead into the ninth inning, where they were unable to get anyone on base to even pretend they might add an insurance run onto their tally.
It's all good, though, right? Britton awaited in the ninth. He's been money this year. He was not money on Sunday, and he was greeted by a pinch hitter, Brandon Guyer, who immediately launched a home run to deep center field that didn't clear the fence by much. Enough is enough, though. Britton struck out Stephen Souza Jr., briefly giving hope that he might have things turned around.
That was not the case. Longoria roped a ball that bounced off the wall in right field and came out of the box thinking triple. I am not sure whether Gerardo Parra could have played the ball better to hold Longoria to a double; it seemed like he was slow digging it out of there. Whether Longoria made it to second or third on the play, the next call would have probably been the same. The O's opted to intentionally walk Forsythe to set up a possible game-ending double play.
By the way, that was Longoria's first triple of the year, because of course it was.
Of course, after you intentionally walk one guy, you're not supposed to unintentionally walk the next guy, especially when the next guy is Richie Shaffer, a fellow with a .200 batting average. Just terrible. The bases were loaded. An optimist might say at least that meant the Orioles could force the run at home. I would laugh at that optimist. Britton got Joey Butler to strike out for the second out. Maybe he would escape and get the game into extra innings, where something good could potentially happen?
No. Britton got an 0-2 count on Kiermaier, who hit a little cheapo Kansas City grounder towards second baseman Jonathan Schoop, who had to charge the softly chopped ball and try to make a throw to first to beat the speedy Kiermaier. He was not successful. Longoria scored as Kiermaier safely crossed first base. The game was over.
Was Britton laboring because he was still tired out from the same thing that caused the Orioles to give him a few days of rest consecutively? Or did he just have a bad day, which even an excellent closer like Britton can be prone to have at any time? For the Orioles' hopes of getting back up to a winning record, it doesn't much matter. They should have won, again, and instead they lost, again.
If you wanted to pick a representative game of the 2015 O's season, this one would surely make the short list for the winner.
The O's next head north for a three-game series against their medicine-dispensing neighbors at Walgreens. Ubaldo Jimenez and Gio Gonzalez are the scheduled starters for the 7:05pm Monday opener.