Another night, another new way to lose a Major League Baseball game for the Orioles. This time it was a 4-3 defeat at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays at Camden Yards that was caused, at least in part, by an error on one of the simplest plays in the sport. That 30th win of the season continues to allude the Birds of Baltimore.
Alex Cobb started for the O’s and was perfectly fine, at least better than his last outing in Toronto. The righty sailed through the first three frames, allowing just one base runner ( a walk) and striking out two.
Things seemed to be going downhill quickly in the fourth inning as Kevin Kiermaier led off with a double and then came around to score on a Jake Bauers single. Bauers himself would cross the plate later on a soft single through the infield by Ji-Man Choi to beat the shift. All of the sudden, it was 2-0 and Cobb’s second-time-through-the-order woes were showing themselves.
The O’s starter managed to right the ship. He worked his way out of the fourth inning and then returned for the fifth inning, dancing around a double and a single with a useful double play ball, and then again for the sixth. He emerged from those six innings with those two earlier runs as his lone blemish.
That is the point at which Buck Showalter should have walked over to his starter, shook his hand and gave him an attaboy for a solid evening of work. He had made it through the Tampa lineup two full times and was halfway through his third trip. Cobb, like pretty much every other pitcher on the planet, struggles with this third time through an opposing lineup. The Orioles know this. They stuck with him anyway.
Before we get to that, let’s focus on a bit of positive Orioles news from this game: In the fifth inning, Jonathan Schoop hit another home run. It was of the two-run variety, scoring Tim Beckham, who had reached on a walk, and it barely squeaked over the 333-feet sign next to the left field foul pole to tie the game at two runs apiece. It counts all the same, and gives even more hope that the second baseman has truly figured out whatever it was that ailed him for the first half of the year.
Prior to that, the Baltimore bats had a couple of promising run-scoring chances fall by the wayside. They loaded the bases in the second inning for Caleb Joseph, but he flew out to left field to end the threat. Danny Valencia and Jace Peterson nearly sparked a two-out rally in the fourth inning, but again Joseph flew out to bail the Rays out of the trouble.
Now, back to Cobb returning for the seventh inning: Choi led off the frame with what looked like a home run to left center field, but it was ruled a double on the field. Upon review, the ball hit the very top of the fence after going through the arms of an Orioles fan and possibly being deflected back towards the field. The replay was inconclusive, denying Choi a home run and forcing him to stay at second base.
It ended up not mattering much. A Joey Wendle single moved Choi to third base and then a base hit from Adeiny Hechavarria brought Choi home to give the visitors a 3-2 lead and put an end to Cobb’s night. The O’s starter was replaced by lefty Paul Fry. The southpaw forced the first batter he faced into a double play, but then walked the next two to load the bases.
Showalter opted to go for the righty v. righty matchup, replacing Fry with Jhan Mariñez to pitch to Matt Duffy. Mariñez forced Duffy to hit a weak dribbler in front of the mound. Mariñez fielded it cleanly but then killed some worms on the throw to first base, and Chris Davis was unable to pick it out of the dirt. Wendle scored on the throwing error, but Mallex Smith got a little greedy and tried to extend the lead by attempting to score from second base. Davis kept the ball in front of him, collected it and fired to Joseph to cut down Smith at the plate, ending the inning with the O’s trailing 4-2.
The Orioles did get one back in the bottom of the eighth inning with a vintage, majestic Davis home run to right center field, but it was a solo shot, which meant the home team was still losing 4-3. That would prove to be their final baserunner of the game.
Davis had a rare good night with the stick. In addition to his home run, he also had a double earlier in the game. It was his first multi-hit game since June 27, snapped a three-game hitless streak and his only game of the season with more than one extra-base hit. Yes, he did strike out once.
Also appearing out of the bullpen were Tanner Scott and Mike Wright Jr., who both tossed a scoreless inning each. Wright Jr. even struck out two batters in his inning. The Orioles will probably be quite bad next year, but their relief corps might not be too shabby.
But just avert your eyes for this part:
Zach Britton with a 1-2-3 inning in his debut with the Yankees, including a strikeout.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 27, 2018
It gets worse. Oh god...
No, no it’s fine. I’m happy for you guys. Truly. It’s fun to see ex-O’s succeed away from the current car fire that is the MLB team in Baltimore. **LOUD SOBBING**
If you dare, the Orioles continue this series with the Rays on Friday. Chris Archer (3-4, 4.30 ERA) will start for the bad guys. He will be opposed by Andrew Cashner (2-9, 4.40 ERA). First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. at Camden Yards. Good luck!