Baseball season may not technically be “over” just yet, but the Orioles aren’t giving their fans too many reasons to continue following along through the end of September. But you have to give it to them: the O’s KNOW how to lose games in exceedingly interesting ways. Saturday’s 10-5 defeat was their latest amazing performance.
Jonathan Villar broke one of baseball’s basic rules in the first inning when he was thrown out at third base trying to steal for the final out. That was just the beginning of their daily dose of ineptitude.
Things got much worse in the bottom of the inning. Mallex Smith reached base on Renato Núñez’s 10th error of the season. Smith moved over to third on a fly out and then scored on one of the weirdest wild pitches you will ever see. O’s starter David Hess lost grip of the ball prior to even throwing towards home, sending the baseball towards the first base dugout.
This one will be... incomplete. pic.twitter.com/sKrvBnPnTv— Tampa Bay Devil Rays (@RaysBaseball) September 8, 2018
Tommy Pham followed with a triple. The former Cardinals outfielder crossed home moments later on a Ji-Man Choi sac fly to centerfield. Three consecutive singles from Kevin Kiermaier, Willy Adames and Jake Bauers added another run. They added one last run in the inning on a double steal attempt. Bauers ran towards second and was thrown out trying to get back to first. Just before that happened, Adames scored.
The weird night continued into the second inning. Brandon Lowe led off the Rays turn with a “double” off of the Tropicana Field catwalk, because of course they did. Lowe, a University of Maryland product, scored on a bunt that Hess fielded and tossed home but was late with the delivery.
Hess managed to right the ship a bit from there, remaining in the game into the sixth inning. Adames led off the sixth with a double, putting an end to the Orioles starter’s line. Over five innings, the rookie right-handed allowed six runs, only two of which were earned, on seven hits and three strikeouts. Did he do enough to stay in the conversation to be a member of the 2019 Orioles rotation? For now. He didn’t pitch completely awful, but he had a horrific wild pitch and made a poor decision on the bunt play at home in addition to continually falling behind hitters. Those things should all factor into the decision on whether he can start on a regular basis or not.
Tanner Scott came on in place of Hess. He retired his first batter on a sac bunt, but then unleashed a wild pitch to allow Adames to score. The lefty then served up three straight singles and allowed another run on a sacrifice fly.
Meanwhile, the Orioles offense was doing what they could to stay in the game. Joey Rickard doubled and then scored on a Villar single in the third inning. They drew a bit closer in the fourth inning on a two-run homer by Núñez. At the end of six innings, the good guys trailed 7-3.
There were signs of hope in the seventh inning. Núñez was once again in the thick of things with a lead-off single. Rickard’s single moved Núñez to third base, and Villar brought them both home on a single to left field. Somehow, despite all of the mishaps, the Orioles were trailing by a score of just 7-5. There was an actual chance at winning.
Then Paul Fry entered the game and couldn’t get anyone out. Singles from C.J. Cron and Kiermaier along with a Bauers walk loaded the bases. Matt Duffy singled to drive in two runs and knock Fry out of the game. Mike Wright Jr. came on in relief and allowed one inherited baserunner to score on a Smith single but then got two more outs to end the inning. Those three runs gave us the final scoreline of 10-5 and put an end to any hopes of the O’s win.
As always, there were positives. Rickard had a 3-for-5 night with a double. Villar was 2-for-2 with three RBI and two walks. Beckham and Núñez both added two hits. Mychal Givens threw a scoreless eighth inning out of the ‘pen.
On the opposite side of things, we “learned” more about John Andreoli, but it wasn’t anything good. Tonight’s left fielder went 0-for-3 with three K’s. This is definitely better than having someone like D.J. Stewart or Mike Yastrzemski patrolling left field.
The Orioles have one last chance at winning a game down in Tampa. These two sides face off again on Sunday. First pitch is set for 1:10 p.m. Rookie Josh Rogers (1-1, 4.35 ERA) is on the mound for the Birds. The Rays are going to deploy another opener. Oh joy!