The 10-game win streak had to come to an end at some point, and we all knew it was coming soon. That’s simply because teams don’t win that many games in a row, even the best teams. So tonight’s result wasn’t a surprise, but it was still disappointing. But they, they’re still 9-1 in their last 10!
Tyler Wells gutted through 5.2 innings tonight, holding the Rays to three runs. He wasn’t the reason the Orioles lost this game, but he did struggle at times. He pitched into the sixth, starting the inning with two outs before giving up a double to a batter he probably shouldn’t have faced. And it was then that the floodgates opened and allowed the Rays to come out of the inning with a 5-2 lead, which was enough for them to win the game.
Wells got through two innings that weren’t perfect, allowing one baserunner in each, but then really got into a jam in the third. With one out he walked Yandy Diaz and gave up a double to Harold Ramírez that put runners on second and third. But he pulled a Houdini act, striking out Ji-Man Choi and getting a lineout from Randy Arozarena.
After wasting a bases-loaded situation in the first inning, the Orioles got on the board in the top of the third thanks to Trey Mancini’s ninth home run of the year. The homer was the second of three hits Trey had on the night, so a nice day at the plate for him. Ryan Mountcastle doubled after Trey’s HR, but was stranded.
The Orioles added a second run in the fourth inning on another home run. This one was from Ramón Urías and was a 400-foot bomb. It was the start of a big night for Urías.
After working out of a jam in the third inning, Wells wasn’t as good in the fourth. He walked Isaac Paredes, then with one out, gave up a double to left field to Yu Chang. As Anthony Santander chased the ball around in the outfield, Paredes came in to score the Rays’ first run of the game. To his credit, Wells stranded Chang at second.
The fifth inning was really the Orioles’ chance to add on to their lead. When they didn’t, I got a sinking feeling that would end up being a big problem. Cedric Mullins and Mancini started the inning with back-to-back singles against former Oriole Shawn Armstrong. Santander and Mountcastle popped out, then Austin Hays got an infield single to load the bases for Adley Rutschman.
Rutschman worked the count full but then Armstrong threw him a sinker that just caught the strike zone on the bottom inner half of the plate. It was a heck of a pitch and Adley got rung up.
Wells had a quick 1-2-3 bottom of the fifth inning and looked good as he started the sixth. He retired Arozarena and Paredes to start, then gave up a double to Josh Lowe. With Wells’s nemesis Yu Chang coming up to the plate, Wells got a visit from the pitching coach.
From the broadcast booth, Jim Palmer opined that they should pull Wells rather than let him face Chang. In addition to the RBI double, Chang had also line out at about 105 mph. They didn’t pull Wells, though, and Chang made them pay. He hit his second double of the night, scoring Lowe and tying the game.
Then, a batter too late, Brandon Hyde pulled Wells in favor of Cionel Pérez. Pérez has been pretty much automatic this season, giving up just three earned runs in 30 innings. Being that good is awesome but also means you’re bound to have a bad day eventually. Pérez’s was today.
Francisco Mejía joined the doubles parade to knock in Chang and put the Rays ahead. They brought pinch hitter Christian Bethancourt in to put the final nail in the coffin. Bethancourt hit a towering fly ball to left field. Santander raced over as the ball headed toward the foul line. He leapt, glove outstretched, but couldn’t get to the ball. At first the ball was called foul, but after review it clearly sailed over the fence for the two-run homer.
Statcast gave the home run an expected batting average of just .060 and a distance of 318 feet. Was that ball catchable with a different player in left field? I can’t say for certain, no angle showed exactly how far behind the fence the ball landed. But it didn’t look great for Santander, let’s just say.
Down 5-2, the Orioles tried to make a game of it in the eighth inning. With Hays on second with one out, Urías launched his second home run of the game. This one wasn’t quite the bomb that the first homer was, but it did the job. Unfortunately the Orioles were still one run down and couldn’t make it up. They didn’t have another baserunner after the Urías homer, the final five batters of the game going down quickly and quietly.
And so, the streak is over. We knew it had to happen. If the Orioles can bounce back and get the series, we’ll forget to be sad about it. But if they sputter their way into the All-Star break, that will be a major bummer.