The Orioles do not have to face Tampa Bay again until next season. That is very good news for the Orioles.
The Rays continued their dominance against Baltimore with a 12-8 victory at Camden Yards this afternoon. The win clinched another sweep for Tampa and marked its 18th win in 19 attempts over the Orioles this season.
Spenser Watkins started for Baltimore and ran into trouble right away. Brandon Lowe began the game with a double to right field, and Randy Arozarena flicked an opposite-field single to put Tampa on the board before Watkins recorded an out.
Arozarena proceeded to steal second and eventually scored on a two-out, bloop single by Joey Wendle. Wendle did plenty of damage today, but we’ll get to that later.
Baltimore managed to sneak on the board in the bottom half of the first. Ryan Mountcastle singled to center field, and Austin Hays drove him home after a walk by D.J. Stewart.
Watkins returned for the second and immediately coughed up a solo shot to former Pirates prospect Jordan Luplow. Luplow pinged a 3-1 fastball that bounced off the top of the foul pole in left field. To his credit, Watkins settled down after that.
Watkins retired 12 straight batters after the shot by Luplow. Baltimore trimmed the lead with a solo homer by Ryan Mountcastle in the third, and Watkins entered the sixth inning on cruise control. Unfortunately, he crashed and burned in a hurry.
Wander Franco broke the streak with a leadoff single to left, and Austin Meadows brought him home in a hurry with a two-run shot to right field. Watkins, perhaps a bit rattled, attempted to get ahead with a middle-middle first pitch strike to Wendle.
The strategy did not work.
Wendle launched an absolute no doubter to right field that chased Watkins from the game. Jorge López entered and recorded three outs without the Rays doing anymore damage.
Baltimore refused to go quietly with Austin Hays working a leadoff walk in the bottom half of the inning. Jorge Mateo followed with a no-doubter of his own, just his third home run on the season, and the Birds trailed 6-4.
The game was ultimately decided by the stumbles of two Baltimore relievers. Paul Fry allowed a grand slam by Joey Wendle in the seventh inning, and Connor Greene surrendered a two-run single to Wander Franco in the top of the eighth. Wendle finished 3-4 with 6 RBIs and two runs scored. Franco, Arozarena, and Luplow also recorded multiple hits in the game.
Cedric Mullins, Mountcastle and Trey Mancini began the seventh with three straight singles. Mullins scored on the knock by Mancini, and Mountcastle eventually came around on a fielder’s choice by DJ Stewart.
Austin Hays led off the eighth with a walk, and Cedric Mullins blasted a two-run home run that trimmed the lead back to four. The Orioles’ offense tallied eight runs on 13 hits but simply could not hold pace with Tampa. Given the way Baltimore pitched, no one could blame the bats.
Mountcastle finished 4-5 with three runs scored. Mancini hit safely three times, and both Mullins and Hays recorded a pair of hits. Jahmai Jones made a few nice plays at second base, and Kelvin Gutierrez managed to avoid striking out for a fifth time with a walk in the ninth.
Okay, maybe those last two notes were a bit of a reach. Baltimore’s offense continued to put the ball in play, and the late offense fits the narrative that the team is not quitting. Anthony Santander stepped in for a pinch-hit at bat in the ninth. He popped out to end the game, but the appearance showed that the day of rest was nothing to be concerned about.
The MASN broadcast celebrated Scott Garceau’s 70th birthday with a few nice remarks and shots of his family holding signs at the game. Perhaps everyone can take a break from their pronunciation gripes and cut the old man a break today.
Baltimore will limp up to Toronto for a three game set against the Blue Jays. Chris Ellis will return to the mound for the Orioles against Robbie Ray and the Jays.