The Baltimore Orioles made an attempt at a late comeback last night against Tampa, but it fell short and the Birds fell in game one of four.
The Baltimore Orioles seem to be one of those teams that can play up or down to their competition. After taking two-of-three in Boston, one would have thought that coming home to play Tampa would have been easy. But the fact is that there are no easy games in baseball – and the Orioles know that. You always have to be on your best game, because the wolf is always at the door.
Tampa’s well aware of their role in the remainder of this season: foil anyone’s plans that you can. That’s evidenced by the way that Kevin Keirmaier seems to run down every ball that’s in the air. I think he could go from foul line to foul line and still get to whatever the Orioles hit last night. But this is a role with which Orioles fans are very familiar (spoiler, that is), and to their credit Tampa is playing it well.
Yovani Gallado struggled with control, which seemingly equaled an early exit for him. Gallardo’s line: 3.1 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 2 BB, 7 K. It’s interesting if you think about it; Gallardo struggled with control, yet he tallied seven strikeouts in those 3.1 innings. However he put the Orioles in an immediate hole when he allowed a three-run homer in the first inning to Evan Longoria.
But the Orioles bounced right back. In the last of the first they cut that lead almost immediately to 3-2 on Matt Wieters’ two-RBI double. Later in the inning J.J. Hardy added a two-RBI double of his own, and the Birds actually had a 4-3 lead. However this is Tampa they were playing – the original anything you can do I can do better team. Logan Forsythe’s RBI-single one inning later tied the game back up at four, and Steven Souza’s softly-hit RBI-single in the third gave Tampa the lead back at 5-4.
Tampa would add two more to that tally on Evan Longoria’s two-RBI single in the fourth, putting the Orioles in a 7-4 hole. However late in the game they threatened to come back. J.J. Hardy and Michael Bourn each grounded out in the last of the eighth, driving in a run. That cut the lead to 7-6, and the Birds had the winning run on base in the ninth however Chris Davis struck out to end the game.
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The way that you beat Tampa is by burying them early and often. When you let them hand around it all but allows for them to play their “reindeer games” and find inventive ways to get on base. That second inning RBI-single off the bat of Forsythe only happened because earlier in the inning a broken-bat flew right at Manny Machado and distracted him from getting to a routine ball. That and the countless softly-hit singles; that’s how Tampa beats you. While you’re looking at your spray charts figuring out where they’re going to hit the ball, they’re finding ways to hit it where the spray charts indicate they won’t.
The series continues this evening, and with a good pitching matchup at that. Ubaldo Jimenez will be on the mound for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Chris Archer. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.