Orioles Drop Series against Rays, and Fall Out of First Place
After their 6 th straight loss following their opening defeat at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays (31-23) on Friday night, the Baltimore Orioles (30-24) rebounded on Saturday afternoon and won a close 2-1 contest to regain a share of 1 st place and even the series at a game apiece.
However, that quickly changed as the Rays pounced on the Birds in the rubber match as they won 8-4, and not only won the series, but Tampa gained sole possession of 1 st place in the American League East on Sunday afternoon.
The Birds make their second trip to Boston (28-26) this season and begin a three game series on Tuesday night before heading home this weekend as they welcome the second round of interleague play and the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday night.
Entering Saturday afternoon’s matchup featuring the top two teams in the East, the Birds had dropped six games in a row, including a sweep at the hands of their north-of-the-border rivals, the Toronto Blue Jays.
Young, southpaw Brian Matusz (5-5, 4.41 ERA) toed the rubber for the Orioles, while the Rays countered with an up-and-coming stud of their own, Jeremy Hellickson (4-2, 2.69 ERA). In his short career against the Birds, Tampa’s right hander has had his way with the Orioles.
Hellickson sported a 4-1 record with a 2.51 ERA in 43 innings against the black and orange entering game two; he pitched well and if not for his defense in the 7 th inning, he would have only allowed one earned run and who knows the outcome.
However, the Orioles’ hurler made it into the 8 th inning as he tossed 7.1 innings, surrendered one earned run on just two base hits, three walks and seven strikeouts. Matusz pitched the way he did when he turned heads in 2010 when he first came up to the big leagues.
Hellickson lasted 6.2 innings, allowed two runs (one earned) on four base hits, one walk and eight strikeouts; a catcher’s interference call and an errand throw in the top of the 7 th lead to the Orioles 2 nd run of the game, ultimately proving to be the game winning run.
After being activated from the 15-day disabled list last Tuesday, Endy Chavez hit his first home run of the season in the 3 rd inning for the Birds’ first run of the game.
After breaking the six-game skid on Saturday afternoon, the Birds jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead in the rubber match on Matt Wieters’ 9 th home run of the season.
However, their lead did not last for too long.
The Birds’ ace Jake Arrieta (2-7, 5.53 ERA) toed the hill and was pitching very well out of the game. In fact, he retired to lineup in order the first time through; things began to unravel the second time through the lineup.
On a rare throwing error by center fielder Adam Jones, the Rays picked up two runs in the bottom of the 4 th inning on a sacrifice fly. The Rays tacked on two more runs off an RBI double by BJ Upton in the 5 th inning as they mounted a 4-1 lead.
The Rays blew the game out of proportion in the 6 th as they added four more runs on a couple of throwing errors, a sacrifice fly and a hard ground ball RBI single.
Arrieta tossed 4.2 innings, allowed four earned runs on just two base hits, four walks and three strikeouts.
Young, left-handed hurler Matt Moore (2-5, 4.45 ERA) toed the rubber for the Rays, and with the exception of the home run ball launched by Wieters, he pitched very well; he lasted six innings, allowed two runs (one earned) on seven base hits, three walks and four strikeouts.
Recently activated Mark Reynolds smashed his 3 rd home run of the season to pull within five runs at 8-3 in the 8 th inning. The Birds threatened in the 9 th inning after runners were on the corners with just one out. However, they could only score one run on an RBI single by Wieters, as they fell 8-4.
The Birds struggled with RISP this game; they went just 3-for-12 and they left 11 runners on base. There were many missed chances and failed opportunities to come back. Once again, they could not come up with the big hit.
Preview vs. Red Sox
The Orioles finish their nine game road trip against another Eastern division rival, the surging Boston Red Sox (28-26). After an off day on Monday, the Birds will visit one of the hotter teams in baseball over the last couple of weeks.
The Sox were sitting three games under the .500 mark at 18-21 on May 18 th. Since, they have won 10 of the 15 contests and moved to only three games out of first place.
The struggling Orioles have lost nine of the last 12 games and are a game out of 1 st place in the East.
Not to mention, the Sox will send southpaw Jon Lester (3-4, 4.79 ERA) to the hill in game one on Tuesday night; it’s safe to say he has owned the Orioles in his career as he is 14-0 with a 2.47 ERA in 19 career outings. He allowed three earned runs over six innings in a no-decision against the Birds in one start this season.
Baltimore will counter with right-handed pitcher Jason Hammel (6-2, 3.06 ERA) who hopes to forget his last outing after Toronto smashed four solo home runs off of him over 6.2 innings in a 4-1 loss. Hammel has been the Orioles strongest starting pitcher this season as he leads the rotation in wins and ERA.
The Birds swept the first series from the Sox when they were struggling in early May; however, Boston rebounded and took two of three at Camden Yards in the second series of the year.
Baltimore needs to take two of thee from the Sox as they lost their 4 th series in a row; the series that began this losing streak was when they visited Oriole Park in late May.
By: Alex Van Rees
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