The past few weeks have provided very little highlights for the Orioles as they continued to fall farther down in the standings. Despite winning a series at home against the Cardinals, the pitching staff found themselves on the verge of a historically bad record. Luckily, the O’s were not only able to prevent this terrible record from happening but also picked up a big road series win.
On Friday, the Orioles kicked off the series with a 15-5 loss. The blowout marked the 20th straight game in which the O’s had given up at least five runs. In case you’re wondering, the all-time record is 20 games (set by the Phillies almost 100 years ago) and the Orioles are now tied for that not-so-prestigious honor.
The opening game appeared out of reach after the fourth when Tampa Bay led 9-4, but the fifth inning really put the nail in the coffin. The Rays scored five runs in the inning while only getting one hit. A collection of walks, errors, and sacrifice plays broke the game wide open as Tampa Bay secured an easy win.
Game two was much better for the Birds. With one of the ugliest records staring them in the face, the O’s pitching staff put together a great outing and held the Rays to just three runs. Dylan Bundy led the effort as he tossed seven strong innings, giving up three runs while striking out eight.
Home runs from Welington Castillo and Adam Jones gave the O’s a 3-0 lead going into the bottom of the third. However, the Rays responded with two homers of their own as Evan Longoria and Corey Dickerson erased the O’s brief lead.
The score remained tied until the seventh inning when the Orioles broke out and put four runs on the board. With two outs and two men on base, Mark Trumbo stepped into the box and smoked a double into the left-center gap. Trey Mancini followed with a home run in the next at bat to make it a 7-3 game.
Donnie Hart and Mychal Givens closed out the final innings, surrendering just one hit apiece, while a sacrifice fly by Manny Machado capped off a 9-3 win for the Orioles.
Sunday’s rubber match played out to be a closer contest than the first two games. The Orioles got on the board first when Paul Janish hit a two-RBI single in the second inning to score Caleb Joseph and Craig Gentry. The Rays answered with one run in the bottom half of the inning.
Joseph launched a solo shot in the fourth inning, giving Chris Tillman a little more breathing room. However, the Rays attacked Tillman once again in the bottom of the fourth to make it a 3-2 game. Tillman clearly didn’t have his best stuff, but managed to work his way through four innings with the lead intact.
The fifth inning was where he really ran into trouble.
After getting two men on base to start the inning, Evan Longoria came through with a three-run homer to give the Rays their first lead of the afternoon. This costly mistake drove Tillman out of the game and forced Buck Showalter to go to the bullpen early yet again.
Mancini stayed hot at the plate in the sixth when he smacked his 14th home run of the season to cut the Rays’ lead to one. The rookie first baseman has been a consistent force on offense all month, and this series was no exception. Mancini went 5-for-11 at the plate against the Rays this weekend with five RBI’s.
The bullpen held the Rays to just five runs as the offense made their comeback. Stefon Crichton, Richard Bleier, and Darren O’Day gave up a collective three hits in 2.2 innings of relief, allowing Jonathan Schoop to tie the game in the eighth with a leadoff homer.
The O’s offense didn’t quit after tying the game and scrapped their way to another three runs in the ninth. Joey Rickard started by hitting a ground-rule double into left to score Joseph, and Machado was intentionally walked in the next at bat to load the bases. This set up the second run as Schoop was hit by a pitch for the second time in Sundays game. The third and final run came via a Jones sacrifice fly and the Orioles won 8-5.
The Orioles will stay on the road in the coming days as they travel to Toronto for another AL East matchup. The Blue Jays have improved since their early season woes, but still find themselves in the basement of the division standings. The O’s will look to stay hot and hopefully pick up more road wins.
Image Credit: Baltimore Sun