BALTIMORE — The Orioles found success away from Camden Yards this past week while playing fellow AL East teams. Two road series wins helped bring an end to a terrible month of June that saw the O’s falling farther down the division standings.
This weekend’s series against Tampa Bay was a great opportunity for the Orioles to continue their climb back into contention. However, a disappointing loss on Friday was quickly followed by a blowout on Saturday, and the O’s found themselves on the brink of a sweep before they even knew it.
While the Birds salvaged a win in the final game, it only made Friday’s loss hurt more. In the series opener, the O’s held a 3-2 lead in the top of the ninth inning. Closer Brad Brach came on and quickly got the first two batters out. Despite being down to their last strike, the Rays somehow managed to tie the game thanks to a variety of mistakes committed by the O’s.
It all started with a balk that sent Rays pinch-hitter Shane Patterson to second base, putting him in scoring position. This was followed by a wild pitch that allowed Patterson to move to third and then the eventual game-tying hit from Adeiny Hechavarria. The Rays’ shortstop was a thorn in the side of O’s pitchers all night as he went 4-for-4 with an RBI. Tampa Bay went on to score three runs in the 10th to secure a 6-4 comeback win.
Saturday afternoon’s game started an hour late after being delayed by rain, but the Rays were not impacted by the weather at all. Tampa Bay jumped out to a 5-1 lead after three innings and then chased Dylan Bundy out of the game after just four innings, marking his shortest start of the season. Bundy’s ERA is quickly climbing and is now over four runs at 4.02.
In the final four innings the O’s were able to score a couple of runs courtesy of a Jonathan Schoop home run. The Rays added two more runs of their own and capped off a dominant 10-3 victory, securing the series win.
In Sunday afternoon’s series finale, the O’s finally showed some signs of life by attacking Rays starter Alex Cobb early. Manny Machado and Mark Trumbo homered in the third and fourth innings to make it a 5-0 game.
Kevin Gausman threw seven strong innings while giving up just two hits and striking out nine. Over his past three starts, Gausman has lowered his ERA from 6.60 to 5.61 while picking up two wins.
Seth Smith doubled in the seventh to score Caleb Joseph and Ruben Tejada, making it a 7-0 game. The Rays scored one run in the eighth but were held to just five hits on the day as the O’s picked up a win, avoiding the sweep.
The Orioles will hit the road once again on Monday to face the Milwaukee Brewers and Minnesota Twins before the All-Star break. It’s going to be a tough seven game stretch with no off days, but the O’s will try to use the momentum they picked up on the road last week to their advantage.
Image Credit: Baltimore Sun