The Orioles started their weekend on a good note, notching a solid 6-3 win against the Tampa Bay Rays. The game, already scheduled to start at 7:35, was pushed back just about an hour by rain and then lasted three and a half hours. That is not ideal. But all is forgiven when the Orioles overcome a shaky start by Alex Cobb and hit three home runs to get the win.
After his good showing in Boston last weekend, Cobb was looking to further prove that he’s back to being the pitcher the Orioles wanted when they signed him. It didn’t go the way he probably hoped, but there were still some positives to be taken away from his night. He flashed his old and improved splitter a number of times, and had to work around some trouble not of his doing. But he also struggled with his control and couldn’t get past the fourth inning.
Things started off well as Cobb struck out Ji-Man Choi using the previously mentioned splitter, and he got a quick ground out from Brandon Lowe. He might have been out of the inning when Willy Adames hit a sharp grounder down the third base line, but Rio Ruiz couldn’t come up with it and Adames ended up with a double. Cobb appeared to strike out the next batter, Yoshi Tsutsugo, but what looked like strike three was called a ball. The next Tsutsugo lined the next pitch into center field for an RBI double.
Cobb didn’t give up a run in the second inning, but it was laborious. He again got two outs right away, but then gave up another double and walked back-to-back batters to load the bases. By the time he got the final out, he had thrown 30 pitches in the inning to all but assure he wouldn’t be able to go deep in the game.
After giving up a second run in the third inning courtesy of a walk and a double, Cobb finally had a 1-2-3 inning in the fourth. He especially looked good striking out Manuel Margot, again with the splitter. But that was it for him in the game. He ultimately threw 87 pitches in his four innings with two runs, three walks, and two strikeouts.
On the other side of things was Blake Snell, the starter for the Rays. Snell actually looked a lot sharper than Cobb but ultimately gave up more runs in fewer innings, so I guess Cobb wins?
Snell allowed the first two batters that he faced to reach base. Austin Hays hit a hard ground ball to shortstop and reached on an error, while Hanser Alberto doubled to put two runners in scoring positing with no outs. The Orioles, being who they are, did not score.
Following Alberto’s double, Snell settled in and retired the next nine batters in a row. He looked great, the O’s hitters looked terrible. Things didn’t look good.
But then the fourth inning arrived, and with it came a lot of fun. First up was Renato Núñez, who doubled to set the table for Anthony Santander. Santander hit a fly all to center that looked like it would be a pretty easy catch for defensive whiz Kevin Kiermaier. But instead, Kiermaier let the ball knock off his glove and go over the fence for a home run. He just needed to jump a little bit! But he didn’t.
The next batter, Pedro Severino, also hit the ball to center field. Kiermaier didn’t have to be embarrassed about not getting that one, though. It was way over the fence. Just like that, the Orioles had the lead! Snell was pulled without recording an out in the fourth inning, replaced by Pete Fairbanks.
A one-run lead isn’t much when you’re the Orioles, and sure enough they blew the lead with quickness. Paul Fry relieved Cobb and immediately served up a game-tying dinger to Brandon Lowe. Thankfully Fry got three quick outs after that, prompting broadcaster Scott Garceau to say that Fry had a 1-2-3 inning “after the home run.” Not how it works!
But don’t worry, Hanser Alberto came to the rescue! Hanser, he’s so hot right now! After Austin Hays struck out to start the inning, Alberto singled, stole second base, and moved to third on a wild pitch. Is there anything he can’t do? After a Núñez walk, Alberto scored on a single from Santander. It looked like a big inning might be in the works, but Severino grounded into a double play to end the inning.
The one-run lead was back. Could the bullpen actually hold it? That’s a tall order for most teams, and I admit that I wasn’t confident. But, dear reader, I shouldn’t have worried. Because not only did Paul Fry, Shawn Armstrong, Tanner Scott, Mychal Givens, and Cole Sulser combined to pitch four scoreless innings to end the game, but the Orioles scored two insurance runs to help me breathe easier.
First, the offense. Back-to-back-to-back singles with one out in the seventh inning loaded the bases for Rio Ruiz. Ruiz grounded a ball to first base, but Choi made a bad throw home and Núñez slid in safely. It looked like it could be a big inning, but Chris Davis (who had pinch hit earlier in the game) and DJ Stewart struck out.
The O’s sixth and final run of the game came in the eighth inning when Homerin’ Hanser Alberto hit his second home run in as many days. It was a beautiful shot to left field that landed in the stands just on the other side of the bullpen.
As for the relief pitchers, there were just a few dicey moments over the final four innings. Fry walked the first batter in the sixth before getting a double play ball. Ji-Man Choi hit a fly ball to right field that should have been caught, but Santander played it poorly and Choi ended up on second base. Tanner Scott then hit the very next batter with a pitch, but struck out the next two to end the inning.
Mychal Givens also walked the first batter he faced, but got the next three to finish the eighth inning. After that it was all down to Cole Sulser, who you may recall blew a save against the Yankees last night. Tonight? A quick 1-2-3 inning to wrap up the win.
That’s it, folks! Tomorrow (today, actually, since this game ended after midnight) is August 1st and your Baltimore Orioles are sitting on a .500 record. Bet you didn’t expect that.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for Friday, July 31st?
This poll is closed
Hanser Alberto (3-for-5, 2B, HR)
Anthony Santander (3-for-4, HR)
Cole Sulser (1-2-3 inning, redemption for yesterday)