The Baltimore Orioles split a doubleheader on Friday with the Tampa Bay Rays. Even though playing the team with the poorest record in all of baseball, it remains difficult to win both ends of a twin bill.
Kevin Gausman was simply not sharp in the opener which the Orioles lost to the Rays by a final of 5-2. He was charged with all the runs scored on seven hits along with four walks. He looked like a guy who has been up and down from the minors and now was out of a routine. It clearly seems to be time for a regular rotation routine to be established for the second half of the season.
His adversary – rookie Alex Colome – had the baseball day of his life thus far. He held the Orioles to one run on two hits through 5.2 innings. Again, the Birds seem unable to figure out a new pitcher or one who has some plus stuff working on that day.
Manny Machado did get his fifth home run of the season in the seventh inning, but it is difficult to win games when a team only tallies a total of three hits.
The evening game was a much more pleasant experience for the Orioles and their fans as the Birds pulled out a 4-1 victory. Chris Tillman performed at his most efficient best. He threw fewer pitches in four innings in this game than he tossed in the first inning alone of several other notorious outings this year. His final numbers were eight innings with only four hits and a single walk. Pounding the strike zone on the inside and outside of the plate … this is the key to solid pitching. Hopefully all the others took note of this approach, though doing it successfully is probably where the devil is in the details.
Each team scored a single run in the second inning, and so the score stood at 1-1 until Nick Hundley got all of a pitch in the bottom of the sixth inning for his first Orioles home run. And Nelson Cruz would double the score in the next inning, driving in Adam Jones who had doubled ahead of him for his fourth base hit of the evening. Yes the whole team had three hits in game one, and Adam Jones had four (out of 10 team hits) in the second game.
And yes, Adam Jones was a steal for the Orioles when they traded for him after the 2007 season, giving up Erik Bedard as the major piece of the deal. So Bedard (3-5, 4.25) returns to the familiar confines of Camden Yards for today’s 4:05 game three of the series.
Bedard has not actually pitched in Baltimore since June 14, 2012 with the Pirates, where the Orioles lit him up for seven runs over 3.1 innings. Tommy Hunter was the starting pitcher for the Orioles that day – remember when he used to do that?
Bedard’s next most recent game against the Orioles was just 10 days ago in Florida where the O’s beat him by scoring five runs in four innings, including a Chris Davis grand slam.
The current Orioles lineup has a .275 average against Bedard, with Adam Jones the highest at 6-for-13. Nick Markakis is 5-for-12 with Davis 4-for-10. Nelson Cruz has the most at-bats with 23 that include seven hits and two homers. We certainly won’t be seeing Delmon Young today – not after Buck sees that he is 2-for-21 over his career against the personality-deprived Canadian.
The Orioles will start Wei-Yin Chen for the 16th time this year, and he enters with a 7-2 record with a 3.84 ERA. He has pitched twice against the Rays this year, giving up four runs on 11 hits in 13 innings.
The current Rays lineup versus Chen is only hitting .235 against him on 31-for-132. Ben Zobrist has been the big killer with 10-for-28 and a home run. But most of the other Rays big guns weigh in (see what I did there?) with smaller successes – Evan Longoria 4-for-17, Desmond Jennings 4-for-23, Sean Rodriguez 2-for-17, and Yunel Escobar 2-for-15.
This looks very winnable, which means ……. nothing.
A positive feature from the Friday doubleheader was having the Orioles get through it fairly intact in terms of the bullpen. Even though Gausman departed earlier than desired, Evan Meek and Brad Brach threw two shutout innings each. And only a single (save situation) inning was needed from Zach Britton in the second game. So the rest of the bullpen is well-rested for today’s contest.
The Jays, Yankees, and Orioles all have 37 losses at this point of the season. However, the O’s have one more win than the Yankees, but three fewer than the Jays.