Written by Scott Hoffman
Orioles’ starter Wei-Yin Chen didn’t have his best outing of the season by any stretch of the imagination, but he did a great job of locating pitches to both sides of the plate and keeping the Tampa Bay Rays from having a big inning. Chen gave up two solo homeruns and a double, but otherwise managed to keep the Rays power at bay. He got himself out of trouble late in the game by inducing three inning-ending double plays.
Final Line – 7 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 3 BB, 3 K
Darren O’Day spelled Chen to start the 8th inning with a three-up, three-down effort. He went deep in the count to Rays’ rookie Wil Meyers before giving up a single to center field and subsequently getting pulled by O’s manager Buck Showalter.
Brian Matusz took the ball with one on and none out in the top of the 9th inning. After an 11-pitch battle with James Loney and quite a few pitches close enough to call strikes, Loney drew a walk.
Showalter handed the ball to Tommy Hunter with two on and none out. A quick fly out, a ground out, and a runner caught stealing at second base by Matt Wieters ended the ball game and earned Hunter his 4th save of the season.
The Orioles manufactured a pair of runs in the first inning thanks to back-to-back singles by Nate McLouth and Manny Machado, a walk by Chris Davis to load the bases, an Adam Jones ground out that drove in one, and a sacrifice fly by Matt Wieters that drove in the second run.
Jones stayed hot with a solo homerun in the 3rd inning. It was his 26th of the season.
Davis hit his 46th homerun of the year to extend the O’s lead in the bottom of the 5th inning.
The “Small Ball” first inning that included a double steal by Jones and Davis gave the O’s the early and much-needed 2-0 lead.
The homeruns by Jones and Davis in the 3rd and 5th respectively gave the O’s that ultimately prevented the Rays’ sweep.
The quick throw by Wieters got the ball to second base in time to nail the runner to end the game, but the throw was wide of the bag and it took a beautiful catch-and-tag by JJ Hardy to get the job done.
Tampa Bay Rays’ starter Jeremy Hellickson is usually tough on the O’s offense, posting a 2-0 record against them in 2013, so it was nice to see the Birds turn things around by jumping on the righty early. He pitched from behind in the count for most of the game and was tagged for four runs in just 4.1 innings of work.
The first inning double steal (Jones and Davis) was a clear indicator that Showalter was ramping up the offensive aggression in order to break the cycle of stranding runners in scoring position.
The O’s loaded the bases in the first two innings but only plated two runs. They went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and stranded 16 runners.
After a solid 8th inning, Showalter sent O’Day back out to start the 9th inning with relievers Hunter and Matusz warming up. Troubled closer Jim Johnson was passed over in spite of the save situation. Tommy Hunter went on to pick up the save.
Visit the Orioles Hangout Message Board