Baltimore Orioles bounce the ball back against Tampa
Over the years the Baltimore Orioles and J.J. Hardy would end up falling to Tampa in any manner possible. The ball would take a strange bounce off the turf at Tropicana Field, skid away from fielders, all among other things. When all else failed, the dreaded broken bat base hit would start a rally – similar to Friday night.
If that didn’t work, we’d see RBI come as a result of Tampa hitting the ball exactly where an Oriole fielder would be – if not for a shift. Tampa seems to be the master of taking what would normally be thought of as common sense, and turning it on it’s side. This is not to say that the Orioles have never beaten Tampa, but it simply feels at times like all of the breaks are on their side.
Call to the Pen
So the O’s came into this afternoon’s game with an opportunity to salvage a respectable road trip, and a series win. While he did seem to tire out in a rush, Wei-Yin Chen came out of the gate with a solid start that put the team in a position to win. Chen’s line: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 3 K. Chen had to battle through several tough at-bats, and his body language in giving Buck Showalter the ball gave away the fact that he wasn’t thrilled with his performance. However as I said, he left the team in a spot to win the game. That’s all that can be asked of him.
Hardy came up to hit with two runners on and two out in the first inning. And he singled to left field, giving the Orioles a 1-0 lead. That brought Nolan Reimold to the plate with two on and two out. And he promptly gave the Orioles some padding to that lead, with a two-RBI double. Tampa’s center fielder Guyer made a diving attempt at the ball, however he couldn’t haul it in. That’s exactly the type of play that Tampa teams have managed to make in the past against the O’s – but not on this day.
Backing up for just a moment, Hardy’s aforementioned at-bat came on the heels of a Davis walk and an Adam Jones infield single. However the key in this point is that Tampa had a shift on Jones, who normally hits the ball to the left side. Instead Jones essentially sent a swinging bunt right where the second baseman would have been…if not for the shift. Again, that’s the type of thing that a team like Tampa would pull off against the Birds – but again, not on this day.
Courtesy of Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
With Schoop already on base in the top of the fourth, Caleb Joseph hit a massive shot deep into the left field grandstand at Tropicana Field, giving the Birds a 5-0 lead. And while at the end of the day it really wouldn’t have mattered (all things being equal), it’s a good thing that he did. Evan Longoria and Logan Forsythe greeted Chen in the last of the fourth with back-to-back solo homers to lead off the inning.
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However this was the Orioles’ day, and the Orioles’ series. The wacky bounces and plays going the Orioles’ way wasn’t the only noteworthy role-reversal in this game. If you would have told some folks that Tampa would have hit two home runs off of the O’s this afternoon, they probably would have assumed that Tampa would have won. The good news for the Orioles in this game was that they manufactured three runs early, which were complimented by a homer in the middle innings.
The O’s will now return home for the first time since the all-star break after reclaiming third place from Tampa. They now sit a game under .500. While the sweep at the hands of New York was costly, the O’s ended up 4-5 on the road trip – there are much worse places to be. They’ll now head home for an interleague series with Atlanta and then four with Detroit, before heading to the west coast.
The aforementioned series with Atlanta begins tonight with Kevin Gausman on the mound for the O’s. He’ll be opposed by Atlanta’s Alex Wood. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.
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