The Orioles are undefeated in series openers no more. They dropped their third game in a row on Monday night, losing 3-0 to the MLB-best Tampa Bay Rays in game one of three at Camden Yards.
Rays starter Shane McClanahan flabbergasted the Orioles lineup once again. Shocker! The lefty held them scoreless over six innings of work, striking out seven in the process. His career 2.35 ERA against the Birds will lower further.
That doesn’t mean the O’s were entirely quiet. In fact, they constantly had traffic on the bases against McClanahan, going down in order just once. But they were unable to cash in on the several opportunities they did create. Despite getting runners in scoring position in the second, fourth, and sixth innings, they didn’t manage any hits, going 0-for-5 in such situations early on.
Meanwhile, Kyle Gibson was keeping his O’s right in the game. In his six innings of work he allowed two runs on six hits, two walks, and four strikeouts. It was a massive improvement from the one-whiff outing had last week in Kansas City.
Gibson got 13 whiffs in this one and seemed to be at the top of his game. He had an extra tick on his fastball, and two extra ticks on his changeup. Both his change and sweeper got four whiffs apiece. But it wasn’t enough to keep the Rays completely off the board.
Their first run came when Josh Lowe took the very first pitch of the second inning and deposited it in the right-center bleachers.
Josh saw the first pitch of the inning and said, "That'll do." pic.twitter.com/fhcNysZeBh— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) May 8, 2023
Gibson worked around a bases loaded jam in the fifth, went 1-2-3 in the sixth, and then returned for the seventh. The leash wasn’t much longer as Brandon Hyde pulled his starter after the leadoff hitter, Luke Raley, reached on a single.
In trotted Bryan Baker from the bullpen. The flamethrower entered without an ounce of control. He uncorked a wild pitch, and then walked the bases loaded. A baserunning error bailed him out a bit when Wander Franco flew out to left field. Raley scored from third without incident, but the other base runners all attempted to move up as well. Ryan McKenna hit the cut-off man, Jorge Mateo, who pivoted and threw to second base to nab Yandy Díaz. Baker got Randy Arozarena to ground out to end the threat with limited damage.
Tampa scored once more when Raley launched a long home run to right field off of reliever Keegan Akin in the ninth inning. It was a solo shot, but extending a two-run lead to three runs at that point in the game felt insurmountable.
Hello, Luke?— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) May 9, 2023
Yes, we'd like another run, please. pic.twitter.com/c6ms5JNR8C
The closest the Orioles came to scoring against the Rays terrific ‘pen was in the seventh. Ryan McKenna singled and Austin Hays doubled with two outs in front of Adley Rutschman. But it’s just one of those stretches for Rutschman. He struck out and is now hitless in his last five games.
To rub salt in the would the Orioles may also be dealing with an injury to Ramón Urías. After singling in the ninth inning he appear to pull up lame while hustling to first base. He was immediately removed for a pinch runner and went straight to the clubhouse. That is potentially a massive loss as Urías is one of the more steady members of the lineup, and his positional flexibility is key to Hyde getting his various infielders a day off here and there.
Prior to that, Urías was a bright spot in this game. He reached base three times: a single and two walks. Austin Hays had a pair of knocks (single, double) out of the leadoff spot, and Anthony Santander added a double and a walk.
On the pitching side of things, Gibson was the obvious standout. The veteran bounced back and acted like the stopper type the Orioles need him to be on occasion. It didn’t work out because the opposing pitcher was just that good. But this was pleasant to see from the “staff ace”.
Grayson Rodriguez (1-0, 5.46 ERA) will look to stop the slide on Tuesday night. He starts against Zach Eflin (4-0, 2.25 ERA) as these two sides matchup again. First pitch is 6:35.