After last night’s wild finish, the Orioles and Rays faced off again in Baltimore for the 2nd game of their 2nd series of the 2013 season. A day after Jake Arrieta underwhelmed, Chris Tillman was set to start against the quiet Rays offense (when not playing the Orioles). On the first pitch of last night’s game, Desmond Jennings drove the ball into the bleachers for a leadoff home run. Chris Tillman immediately started off better by retiring Jennings on a fly out to left field.
Well, that is certainly refreshing. Start the game off with an out, get some momentu–
After a first pitch ball to Kelly Johnson, the Rays 2nd baseman smacked Tillman’s offering into the bleachers just to the left of the bullpen. I guess it was a better start than Arrieta’s yesterday, but ‘better’ is such a relative term. Tillman would eventually escape the inning with only the 1 run allowed, and the Orioles would come to the plate to start the bottom of the first with a leadoff single by Nick Markakis — who hits lefties unbelievably well for a left handed hitter. Wieters would single three batters later with two outs, however the Orioles would be unable to score any runs.
The 2nd inning saw Karma show up. After getting Matt Joyce to strike out looking, good old Shelley Duncan stepped to the plate. I theorize that when Shelley was a child, he was teased to no end. As a result, he made it his life goal to be able to hit a baseball out of any ballpark in any given at bat. It is an understandable goal, as if you are consistently confused with a girl, there aren’t many better ways to convince your abuser otherwise than a 400 some foot shot out of the ballpark. And so, because I constantly poke fun at Shelley’s name, he had to reassert himself as having an X and Y chromosome, and he sent Tillman’s 4th pitch of the at bat over the LF wall, much to my dismay.
Why couldn’t Shelley had just played with Barbies, like the rest of the Shelly’s?
Tillman would get out of the 2nd without anymore damage, and the score would remain 2-0 until the 3rd inning, where the Orioles would finally do some damage. After a Nick Markakis walk and a Manny Machado groundout, Adam Jones stood at the plate with a man on and two outs. Jones has had success against Moore in the past, and although the Rays’ lefty has stuff comparable with the best, he is guilty of letting a fastball get away here and there. Jones took full advantage of the opportunity when it presented itself in the 3rd and he laced a shot to left centerfield that bounced off of the wall and back into the field of play, and Jones stood at 2nd with Markakis scoring on the play.
However, the bullpen reacted as if the ball had cleared the wall. As Buck Showalter came out to talk to the umpire, and the replays showed the ball careen off of the metal pole behind the wall in centerfield, it was evident that Jones had in fact tied the game with one swing, and would eventually be credited with his 2nd home run of this young season.
But of course, Chris Tillman hates pitching in tie games, so he relinquished the short lived lead the next half inning. Shelley Duncan (stop it Shelley) and Evan Longoria would score on James Loney’s 2-RBI double — one of Loney’s 3 hits and 2 of his 3 RBIs on the day. And the Orioles would move forward in the game now down 4-2 after the 4th inning.
The pitchers would settle into the game until the 6th inning, as Matt Moore would make quick work of the birds in the 4th and 5th and 6th. Tillman, however, wouldn’t make it to the 6th inning, as once again, the Orioles’ starter was inefficient with his pitches and was forced to leave the game without having seen the 6th inning — let alone completing it.
The 5th wasn’t without its excitement though, as after allowing the leadoff batter, Kelly Johnson, to single, Joe Maddon started having crazy ideas. Doesn’t he know that you don’t run on Matt Wieters? When Wieters received the pitch from Tillman, he was already preparing the throw to 2nd base. As he caught the ball and stood, he double clutched the ball in his hand — as if he was signaling, “You really had the nerve…” — and he delivered a one hopper to J.J. Hardy who was cat-like in applying the tag on the sliding Johnson. The umpire called Johnson out — because he knows that you don’t run on Matt Wieters. Joe Maddon wasn’t too pleased, however. He ran out to argue, and the Rays’ tactician was eventually tossed from the game.
All because he tried to run on Matt Wieters.
Tillman had thrown a lot of pitches, as previously mentioned. So, in the 6th, T.J. McFarland, the Orioles Rule 5 pick from Cleveland, entered the game.
After getting Matt Joyce to groundout, no other than Shelley Duncan stepped to the plate. McFarland decided long ago that he wasn’t about to give up a home run to anybody named Shelley, so he walked Duncan on 4 pitches. I suppose that is better. The next batter McFarland faced, James Loney, would double to the scoreboard in right, and Duncan would only get to third base as he appeared to miss the bag at 2nd and have to return to touch it before going to 3rd. Thanks Shelley.
So, the Rays have men on 2nd and 3rd with one out, and the ever dangerous bat of Jose Molina (can you feel my sarcasm?). Molina hit a ground ball to the second baseman Alexi Casilla, who noticed Shelley Duncan having a mental war with himself, and off of the bag at 3rd base. Casilla threw the ball to Machado at the bag at 3rd, who after Duncan bolted for home, threw to Wieters as they had Duncan in a rundown. Unfortunately for Shelley, James Loney had already advanced to 3rd and he had nowhere to go, as Wieters simply ran him back to the bag before applying the tag.
This event fits nicely with my Shelley Theory, as he spent all of his childhood focusing on how to best crush a baseball — to prove to all of the boys in the schoolyard that Shelley ain’t no sissy. Unfortunately for the Rays and fortunately for the Orioles, he never learned how to run the bases. The celebration of ineptitude was short-lived for the Orioles, and the next batter, Yunel Escobar, would single to drive in Loney from 3rd base and put the score at 5-2 Rays.
The rest of the game would be one of missed opportunities and inability from the Orioles offensively. Matt Moore effectively shut down the birds lineup before passing it off to Jake McGee with 1 out remaining in the 7th inning. The Rays bullpen proceeded to shutdown the Orioles hitters. T.J. McFarland would remain in the game for 3 inning through the end of the 8th, and he allowed one more run to none other than James Loney.
James Loney, I really hope you don’t suddenly find your hitter’s stroke that you had sporadically in Los Angeles.
With the score 6-2, the Orioles would have one final chance against the Rays closer, Fernando Rodney — who was pitching not because of a save opportunity, but a lack of recent work. Rodney would sufficiently smother whatever was left of the noise in the Orioles’ bats. The Orioles would lose the game by a score of 6-2, and their record would fall back to .500 with the rubber match against the Rays tonight at 7:05.
All things considered, the things that I can take most from this game are related to Tillman and Reimold. Tillman was frustratingly inconsistent last night, as he started the game throwing 89-90-mph straight fastballs until settling around 92-mph later in the game. He is something of an enigma, as his stuff will be sharp as ever one inning, and then disappear the next. He had decent stuff in the game, but was simply working behind hitters the entire time, and that is a formula for negative results. At some point, you wonder how many starts Arrieta and Tillman have before there are other chances to be had. Tillman’s situation is a bit more difficult to maneuver, as he has no more minor league options remaining, so he would have to clear waivers (which would never happen) to be demoted, however, Arrieta is walking the tightrope rather gingerly.
Reimold on the other hand, seems somewhat lost. I know I said I wasn’t concerned with his production, but there is a bit of concern creeping in. He consistently starts an at bat down to two strikes, and then he will chase and try to protect, only to get himself struck out. He is capable of being a great hitter, but he is really struggling at the plate right now. I know that last year, he seemed to be struggling before unleashing a streak of 5 HRs in a very short time period, so things can change rather quickly. Regardless, I would really like to start to see some signs from Nolan that he is fully healthy and contributing.
Let’s see if the Orioles can take the series from Tampa tonight, as they will face the ace, David Price. Let’s go O’s.