Did you really expect these Orioles to win two games in one day? Don’t be greedy. It’s unbecoming. Anyway, the O’s dropped the second half of the Hurricane Dorian-induced doubleheader with the Rays on Tuesday night by a score of 2-0 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
The loss was no fault of the Birds starting pitcher Gabriel Ynoa, who turned in his longest outing of the season.
Ynoa’s first trip through the Tampa order was easy enough. In three innings, he allowed two hits and struck out one while getting a little help from a double play to keep the home team off of the scoreboard.
Austin Meadows broke the deadlock in the fourth inning with a solo home run off of a Ynoa slider. The outfielder’s round tripper was an absolute bomb that seemed to go just as high as it did far.
The O’s starter kept the opposing bats quiet throughout the fifth and sixth innings but then began to struggle in the seventh thanks in equal parts to the bouncy turf at The Trop and some less than stellar defending by Anthony Santander.
After Travis D’Arnaud led off the inning with a ground out, Ji-Man Choi followed with what should have been a single, but it bounced over Santander’s head, allowing Choi to get all the way to third base and put Ynoa on the ropes.
The hit did not come without its downside for Choi, though. The Rays slugger would exit the game after the play on account of being hit in the face by both the ball and Rio Ruiz’s glove via the relay throw from the outfield. Pinch runner Guillermo Heredia would cross the plate moments later on an Avisail Garcia single, which also knocked Ynoa from the game. Despite a nice evening of work, the O’s hurler left trailing 2-0.
It didn’t have to go down this way. The Orioles should have, at the very least, been tied with the Rays at this point in the game. Their offense did not make much noise on this night, but it was gifted with a golden opportunity way back in the third inning.
Chris Davis led off the frame with a single against the shift to left field, which turned into two bases when Meadows let the ball get through his legs and all the way to the outfield fence. The next batter, Richie Martin, was ready to give himself up by bunting over Davis. He squared around and delivered a perfect sacrifice bunt to third baseman Joey Wendle, who fielded it cleanly, but then airmailed the throw to first base. Davis scored easily and Martin made it all the way to third base on what looked like the start of a promising rally for the O’s.
But it was not meant to be.
What actually happened was that Martin was called out at first base by the home plate umpire on account of being out of the base line. That meant Davis had to go back to second base, and it was treated as a ho-hum 5-3 put out in the box score. It’s a call that makes little sense, and O’s manager Brandon Hyde would agree. The ball and Martin got to first base at almost the exact same time, and the throw was extremely high. It didn’t matter where Martin was in relation to the base. The ball was not going to reach its intended target. But in a world of arbitrary reviews and murky rules, what the umpire said in this instance cannot be overturned.
Don’t fret, the Orioles still had a runner in scoring position with one out and one of the team’s best hitters, Jonathan Villar, striding to the plate. Surely, he would come through!
Well, sort of.
Villar got a hit. A double, in fact. But the runner, Davis, wasn’t holding up his end of the bargain. Villar’s double went to deep center fielder, and Kevin Kiermaier, one of the league’s finest defender’s, gave chase. While this was going on, Davis was standing on second base, where he was presumably ready to tag up if/when Kiermaier made the catch. But instead, the ball bounced off of Kiermaier’s glove.
Because he had prepared to tag up rather than positioning himself halfway to the next base, Davis could only make it to third. Villar, not looking at what’s happening ahead of him on the base-paths, had a triple in his mind the entire time he was running. That’s great! Way to go the extra mile! Take every inch that you can! Distance metaphors! There’s only one problem: Davis was already standing on third base.
By the time Villar realized this fact, the ball was already back on the infield and Villar was stuck between two bases. The play ended with Villar being meekly tagged out. And then newbie Mason Williams struck out to compound the misery. In an inning that could have proved a difference-maker in a tight ball game, the O’s ended up with bupkis. Davis would be left stranded.
That inning would prove to be Baltimore’s only real chance to score in this game. Between the fourth and ninth innings, the O’s recorded two hits, 11 strikeouts and zero runners past first base. On top of that, Trey Mancini was ejected for arguing a check swing call and he was quickly followed to the locker room by Hyde, who gave the home plate ump an earful, a rant that likely encompassed both strike zone complaints and unkind words regarding the questionable call back in the third inning, along with some dirt kicked onto home plate for effect.
But let’s stay positive here, folks! Villar had a two-hit game. That’s nice! Ynoa was solid, if unspectacular. Over 6.1 innings, he allowed those two runs on six hits, no walks and two strikeouts. And then Paul Fry and Miguel Castro combined for 1.2 scoreless relief innings. Oh, and both Villar and Martin made some nice defensive plays!
But yeah, we can’t really tip toe around the bats. They were bad. As a group, the Orioles struck out 13 times and were unable to work one walk. Granted, they also faced seven different pitchers, so there wasn’t a whole lot of “settling in” to be done.
Luckily, the double-header today gives the O’s an unexpected day off on Wednesday as they travel back home before beginning a four-game weekend series against the Texas Rangers on Thursday. Hyde has not yet announced a starter for that game, but whoever it is will be opposed by Kolby Allard (3-0, 4.33 ERA), a 22-year-old left-hander. First pitch is set for 7:05 from Camden Yards.