Tonight was not the bounce-back outing that Matt Harvey needed after his poor start in New York against the Mets. The Orioles’ bullpen was not spared on this particular night either because the Dark Knight wasn’t even able to make it out of the second inning against the Rays.
Despite striking out 14 times, Tampa Bay totaled five home runs in the series opener and every batter in their lineup had at least one hit. Entering play Tuesday, the Rays had struck out 438 times, more than any other team in the majors.
The Orioles, on the other hand, entered play with the ninth fewest strikeouts in baseball (340). It’s remarkable how much the Birds’ offense has cut down on the K’s as the season has progressed, considering the pace they were setting in early April. Tampa Bay punched out 14 Oriole batters in this one.
After working around a two-out walk in a scoreless first, Harvey surrendered six runs in the second and was removed with two outs in the inning. The first three-run bomb was delivered by Brett Phillips, and the second one — preceded by a swinging bunt single to third by Randy Arozarena that the O’s infield watched die in fair territory — came off the bat of Austin Meadows. 6-0, Rays.
After tonight’s debacle, Harvey’s ERA stands at 5.93.
With Tyler Wells on the mound in relief, the Rays struck again in the third. Joey Wendle led the inning off with a standup triple before catcher Mike Zunino cranked a two-run home run to center field, the ball bouncing high into the air off the cement walkway leading from the bullpens to the outfield gate. 8-0, Rays.
In a welcome back to the majors moment, Stevie Wilkerson stroked a double to the right-center gap to lead off the bottom of the third. Cedric Mullins followed with a broken-bat bloop single into shallow right field, and all of the sudden, the Birds had something going with runners at the corners and nobody out.
Austin Hays hit a hard ground ball single up the middle, past a diving Willy Adames, to drive home the Orioles’ first run of the game. 8-1, Rays.
Despite allowing a two-run homer, Tyler Wells looked strong this Tuesday evening. After entering the game in the second, the Rule 5 pick racked up an impressive six strikeouts over the course of 2.1 innings. His night ended after the fourth.
Back to the Orioles offense, Stevie Wilkerson came through again in the fourth after a walk by Freddy Galvis and an infield single into the shift by Chance Sisco. With the count 1-2, Wilkerson redirected a Luis Patino four-seamer into right field for an RBI single, his second hit of the game.
Wilkerson advanced to second base on a wild pitch by Patino and after Mullins was hit by a pitch on his back foot, the bases were loaded. Rays manager Kevin Cash had seen enough from the rookie right-hander Patino at that point and replaced him with Andrew Kittredge.
Hays then hit a fielder’s choice ground out to shortstop but beat the relay throw to first, sending Sisco across home plate. Then Trey Mancini slashed a single to left and drove Wilkerson home to bring the Orioles within four runs of the Rays. 8-4, Rays.
Travis Lakins Sr. replaced Wells to begin the fifth and promptly allowed a leadoff single to Yandy Diaz. Two batters later, Mike Zunino hit his second home run of the game, a two-run shot to left. Lakins struck out the next two Rays’ hitters to end the fifth. 10-4, Rays.
Tamps Bay was at it again in the sixth, aided by back-to-back walks from Lakins to lead off the inning. After University of Maryland, College Park alumni Brandon Lowe hit a one-out RBI single to left, O’s manager Brandon Hyde summoned Cole Sulser from the bullpen to finish the frame. 11-4, Rays.
Sean Armstrong allowed the Rays’ fifth home run of the night in the eighth. It was a two-run shot to center by Ji-Man Choi after an Austin Meadows leadoff double. 13-4, Rays.
Baltimore’s offense was stifled in the second half of the game, with the Rays retiring 12 Oriole batters in a row from the fourth to the eighth. That streak ended with back-to-back walks to Ryan Mountcastle and Sisco in the eighth, but both were left on base.
The Birds got a couple of runs in the ninth with RBI singles by DJ Stewart and Pat Valaika. But that was their last gasp before Jeffrey Springs induced a ground out from Mountcastle to end the game. 13-6, Rays.
Tomorrow’s 7:05 pm first pitch can’t come soon enough for the O’s as they look to erase the painful memory of tonight’s lopsided loss. Hopefully, the Rays used up all of their offense for this three-game series on the first night.