The Orioles (74-80) still have a chance to finish the season at .500 or above! On the back of an outstanding start from Gabriel Ynoa, the O’s beat the Tampa Bay Rays by a score of 3-1 on Thursday night at Camden Yards.
Looking ahead to the offseason, the Orioles are going to be in serious need of starting pitchers behind Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman. If Ynoa consistently pitches like he did tonight, he will be setting himself up to grab one of those three open spots in the rotation.
Over eight innings, Ynoa allowed just one run on five hits, two walks and three strikeouts. He worked his way out of jams and was pitch efficient, throwing just 94 in this one. It was an impressive performance, even if it did come against one of the lower-scoring offenses in the league.
The struggles that the O’s starter did have came early on. In the first inning, a double play and runner thrown out stealing saved him from the two hits and one walk he allowed. After that, the only other big trouble he had came in the third frame. Brad Miller led off with a double which was followed by a Daniel Robertson single that Austin Hays bobbled away in right field, scoring Miller. That was all Tampa could muster on this night
Ynoa featured a mid-90s fastball, a few change-ups and a healthy does of sliders. The righty doesn’t miss a ton of bats, but he keeps hitters off balance with his mix of pitches. That’s perfect for a back-end starter. Keep the hitters swinging, get weak contact and maintain a low pitch count.
Start ‘em early
It was a similar story for the Birds. All of their damage came in the opening inning against the Rays’ starter, Matt Andriese.
Hays led off with a single and then Manny Machado launched an absolute bomb to left field, giving the O’s a 2-0 lead before even recording an out. After a Jonathan Schoop pop out, Adam Jones doubled and then came in to score on a Trey Mancini single to give the Birds a 3-0 advantage.
Reports claim that after Andriese left the mound he went to the clubhouse where he had a meeting with Bugs Bunny and Michael Jordan. It went something like this:
He was a totally different pitcher after that inning. Sure, he allowed a single here or there, but his slider had gained some serious bite on it, and he started living on the edge of the strike zone.
The only time the Orioles got close to scoring again was in the fourth inning when they had runners on the corners with two outs, but they were thwarted by a J.J. Hardy ground out. Andriese’s final line: six innings, seven hits, three runs, one walk, eight strikeouts (career high).
Steve Cishek was handed the seventh inning for Tampa and worked a clean inning. Sergio Romo had the eighth and maneuvered around a one-out walk to close out the bullpen’s tab for the night.
I wanna Brach
On Baltimore’s side of things, Brad Brach trotted to the mound for the save in the ninth inning. It will likely be his job for the remainder of the season as Zach Britton nurses a nagging knee problem.
As it always seems to be in the final frame for Brach, it was a struggle. The right-hander sat down the first two hitters but then got into trouble by issuing a walk to Steven Souza Jr. Corey Dickerson followed by hitting a ball up the middle on a hit-and-run. With the runner in motion, the shortstop, Hardy, was actually standing right where the ball ended up, but the veteran just sorta missed the bouncing grounder, leading to runners on the corners with Kevin Kiermaier and his beautiful eyes stepping to the plate.
You’ve seen this movie before. A go-ahead home run waiting to happen. BUT NOT THIS TIME! Brach alternated balls and strikes before getting the pinch hitter to fly out to left field and earn the win for the O’s and 18th save of the season for Brach.
Both teams seem just about checked out on this season. The starters for both sides were good, but not so good that they should have allowed just four total runs against teams with some very good hitters. But that’s September baseball in games with two squads out of contention.
They both get to do it all over again on Friday. Alex Cobb (11-10, 3.63 ERA), a possible future Oriole (Hmmm?), goes for Tampa, and Ubaldo Jimenez (6-10, 6.57 ERA), a definite future free agent, heads to the hill for Baltimore. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m. and the game is on MASN 2 in Birdland.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for September 21?
This poll is closed
Gabriel Ynoa (win, eight innings, one run)
Manny Machado (2-run homer)
Austin Hays (only Oriole with two hits)
Welington Castillo (threw out runner in 1st)