Orioles Salvage One Game against Rays
After spending the night tied with the Tampa Bay Rays (51-48) for second place in the American League East, the Baltimore Orioles (52-47) bounced back and won the final game of the three avoiding a sweep.
Not to mention, they regained sole control of second place- which is the most important part.
The Orioles need to make sure they maintain at least a second place finish in the East, or else they most likely will not have an opportunity to make the playoffs come October. The Rays are a tough team that does not give up, and today’s victory proved the Birds will not give up either.
Chris Tillman (3-1, 1.66 ERA) earned his second consecutive victory, the first time that has happened in his entire career. Again, he looked very impressive on the mound; he tossed six strong innings, as he allowed two earned runs on five hits, four walks and five strikeouts.
Chris Davis broke out at the dish today as he went 2-for-4 with four RBI including a bases-clearing double and a solo home run (16 th) to cap off the 6-2 win. Entering today’s game, Davis had driven in just three RBI since the All-Star break, until this afternoon.
Adam Jones got the Orioles on the board with a two-RBI single in the 5 th preceeding Davis’ key double.
Following a five game-winning streak, which ended on the last game of the road trip in Cleveland on Monday, spirits were high for this series. The Birds could possibly distance themselves; at least, they had the opportunity to, and failed.
In the first game of the series, Jeremy Hellickson (5-6, 3.42 ERA) outdueled Wei-Yin Chen (8-6, 3.82 ERA), as the Rays took the opener 3-1. The Rays hurler tossed 6.1 innings and allowed just one earned run on three base hits.
Chen tossed 6.2 innings, however, he surrendered three earned runs on four base hits in his sixth loss of the year.
The only offense from the Orioles was provided by Jones after he launched his 23 rd bomb of the year in the 4 th inning that gave the Birds a temporary lead.
Game two was a completely different story; the Rays jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead before the Orioles even came to the plate. And, they were set to face one of the toughest southpaw’s in the game, David Price (14-4, 2.47 ERA).
The Orioles countered with a southpaw of their own, rookie Miguel Gonzalez (2-2, 4.68 ERA), who was coming off a very strong outing against the Indians where he pitched 6.2 innings and allowed two earned runs.
Last night’s game was a bit different for Gonzalez; the first pitch of the game was launched by Desmond Jennings for a solo home run. He walked a batter, hit two Rays and served up four base hits en route of allowing a five-spot in the first inning of the game.
Eventually, he added a couple of more earned runs and finished with a tough line; he lasted just 2.2 innings, surrendered those seven earned runs on seven base hits.
Price tossed an impressive seven innings, gave up seven base hits, yielded just one earned run, and he picked up 10 strikeouts as he won his sixth straight decision and his 14 th of the year.
J.J. Hardy drove in the Birds’ loan run in the bottom of the 1 st inning. The loss set up a must-win game in Thursday’s matinee, or else they would have completely lost control of second place in the East.
This was an important series for the Birds because they entered the series with a two-game lead and finish with just a one-game lead. Plus, the surprisingly-hot Oakland Athletics (53-45) make their second and final visit to Camden Yards this weekend, and they are one of the teams the Birds will be battling for a possible Wild Card spot.
Currently the Orioles hold the second best record in the Wild Card race. However, there are four teams in front of the Birds all with a 53-45 record, and those pesky A’s are one of those teams.
The Orioles won 2-of-3 against the Athletics when they made their first trip out East. Historically, since 2007, the Birds sport just a 14-27 record against the A’s. Although, their home record, 10-12, is much better than their record at the Colesium, 4-15.
Oakland will open the series with rookie Jarrod Parker (7-4, 3.00 ERA), who owns the lowest ERA of any rookie who qualifies in the AL. The Birds will counter with one of their young studs, Zach Britton (1-0, 3.60 ERA).
Britton looked impressive in his latest outing; he picked up his first win of the year against the Indians after tossing six shutout innings and he gave up just four base hits in the slim 4-3 victory last weekend.
After a couple of rough outings in his previous two starts in which he allowed 10 earned runs over 10.2 innings, Parker was tapped for just one run over eight innings against the Yankees.
This series against the A’s might seem harmless because it’s only the end of July. You might be thinking that there is still a couple of months left in the year and the Birds will have time to rebound if they falter this weekend.
However, regardless of timing, the Orioles have to play their possible playoff opponents as tough as they can. If it comes down to it, the Birds might have to play a one-game playoff game in order to advance to the show. They need to know their opponents, and if they don’t take the series seriously, it could be detrimental in the end.
The series starts tomorrow night at Camden Yards at 7:05pm.
By: Alex Van Rees
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