The Baltimore Orioles managed just four hits and two runs in the first eight innings, and a big ninth inning for the Tampa Bay Rays broke open a close game en route to a 7-4 victory over the Birds.
Going into last night's game, Manager Buck Showalter knew it was going to be a tough game against Tampa Bay starter Alex Cobb (8-2), who has been fantastic this season, and he was right. Baltimore's offense could not get anything going through the middle innings, and even went through a 16 batter stretch without recording a hit.
"We knew he's not going to throw that many fastballs. A lot of splits, a lot of breaking balls. Strike one early. And we're not any different. Everybody kind of knows what he does. He's got a really good one. He feels really comfortable with it anytime in the count. Finally, the last couple innings, we made him consistently throw it for a strike and were able to get him out of there, but their bullpen is pretty good." Showalter said.
Baltimore took advantage of an Evan Longoria error in the second inning when Ryan Flaherty hit a two out RBI single in the second inning to score Matt Wieters and tie the game at one. That would be the last hit for the Orioles until the seventh inning when JJ Hardy hit a single.
The Orioles had one real chance for a big inning and that came in the aforementioned seventh inning when they loaded the bases with no outs to chase Cobb from the game. Brian Roberts then hit a sharp ground ball to Longoria who made a 5-4 double play, and although a run scored on the play to make it a one run game at 3-2, it was a blown opportunity to say the least.
Wieters hit a two run home run in the bottom of the ninth after the Rays scored four runs in the top of the ninth to put the game out of reach.
Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez (8-6) had a rough outing as he allowed 12 batters to reach base, whether by hit or a walk over just 5 2/3 innings pitched. Gonzo battled all night and kept the team in the game, but allowed three runs on eight hits, four walks and four strikeouts.
T.J. McFarland had a great 2 1/3 innings, the problem is that last 1/3 of an inning in the ninth ended up producing four runs. Jim Johnson came in for relief of McFarland and gave up three straight singles, but did have a scoreless 2/3 of an inning.
With the loss the Orioles lost a game to the Rays in the wildcard race, but out on the west coast, both the A's and Red Sox both lost to save the Birds a little bit as they did not lose any ground in either race. Baltimore has now lost six of their last eight games, but still find themselves in the thick of the playoff race. You just have that feeling that this team is due for a hot streak of some sort as they have not had a two week stretch where everything was clicking. The O's longest winning streak this season is just five.
Baltimore will look to avoid the sweep tonight as they send Wei-Yin Chen (6-6) to the mound for the start against Rays right hander Jeremy Hellickson (10-6).
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