Moore Is Too Much - Orioles lose to Rays 6-2
Written by Mike Laws
Bats extinguished, O’s fall quietly to Rays
You know things aren’t going well when you’re actually relieved to see Jake McGee get the nod from the bullpen. Yet that was precisely the situation the Orioles found themselves in Wednesday night, following the majorly frustrating six and two-thirds innings of work the Rays got out of starter Matt Moore. True to form, the promising young lefty suffered from intermittent lapses in command, walking three Oriole batsmen and laboring deep into counts; true to form, he lived up to the “effectively wild” tag, wriggling out of his self-created jams, clawing his way back and digging deep for the big out.
And so, with the probable anomaly that was McGee’s maiden outing firmly in mind — he gave up five runs to the O’s on Opening Day down in Tampa, blowing a lead and taking the loss — there was some cause for optimism, having finally seen Moore get the hook. Alas, it was not to be; on an apparently much shorter leash, this time around, McGee fanned the one hitter he faced, Manny Machado, to strand yet another baserunner and end the Oriole seventh.
Which was pretty much emblematic of how this one went …
Anyway, on to the sad, sad bullet points:
- What an up-and-down middle of the game this one was for Adam Jones. Having just knotted the game at 2 with a two-run, two-out rocket over the wall in left-center (just over the wall, as a matter of fact; the ball caromed back into play off some unseen rail just beyond the fence, and had to be confirmed as a homer by means of one of these newfangled all-umps-into-the-tunnel video reviews), Jones proceeded to make a pair of bad defensive decisions in the Tampa Bay fourth. After Evan Longoria doubled to lead the inning off, and with one out, Shelley Duncan singled to center. Though Longoria got the hold sign and never looked as if he’d test Jones’s arm, Jones decided to show that arm off anyway, overthrowing his cutoff man (and nearly catcher Matt Wieters as well), allowing Duncan to advance to second. And wouldn’t you know it, nearly a carbon copy of that base hit cropped up mere moments later, with James Loney lacing a dipping liner out in front of Jones. The Oriole center fielder appeared to believe he could make a shoestring grab, then pulled up and attempted to play the ball on a short hop that’d allow him to come up firing to the plate (again), except the ball spun off of and away from Jones and behind him for what the official scorer generously ruled a two-run double. You probably don’t need me to point out the irony here, but I’ll do it anyway: Jones makes ill-advised throw home that allows Duncan to scamper to second; Jones then makes ill-advised attempt at coming up firing so as to cut down a runner it’s his fault is now in a position to score; owing to ill-advisedness of said play, Jones never gets to make second throw home.
- So charging Baltimore starter Chris Tillman with all those earned runs might be a tad harsh, but it’s not as though he’d turned in a gem of a start anyway. As with seemingly all his and Jake Arrieta’s outings so far in this still-young season, Tillman vacillated between two selves: the one who backs up his plus fastball with plus off-speed stuff, adroitly mixing in a curveball that’s downright nasty, and the one who battles mightily with command issues, who gives up fly balls like they were red meat on Lent. And of course, giving up fly balls by the pound can be a dangerous proposition, at Camden Yards. Sure enough, Kelly Johnson took a Tillman offering into the center-field bleachers, in the first, and Duncan did likewise in the second …
- … the silver lining behind which was that both were solo shots, at least. So even with the two long balls and the two runs Tampa pushed across in the fourth, the O’s were still (nominally) in this ballgame, down only a pair. And the way the bullpen’s been performing lately, you had to like the Birds’ chances, following Tillman’s five(-plus) innings. Sadly, though, this was to be the night the first chinks appeared in the armor of Oriole long-man T.J. McFarland. Tampa actually gave the crafty southpaw every opportunity to slip out of the sixth unscathed: Duncan committed a pair of baserunning atrocities, bafflingly failing to score on another Loney double then getting hung up between third and home on a chopper to Alexi Casilla at second. But a Yunel Escobar two-out single plated Loney, who in the eighth would go on to single in another run — marking the first two big-league runs allowed by McFarland.
- And a four-run deficit was just not something the O’s appeared up to the challenge of making up, in this one. Just to gloss over the decidedly unattractive numbers in the home-team box score: Only four Orioles collected hits, with no player getting more than one; the only Orioles not to strike out were Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy and Nate McLouth, who nonetheless combined for a 1-for-10; Nolan Reimold went down on strikes in his first three at-bats, and Jones struck out twice; and after Jones’s homer in the third, not a single Oriole ever reached second base again.
BESPECTACLED, VEXED: Rays skipper Joe Maddon, constitutionally more given to an ironic smirk than a bark-fest involving an umpire, got himself ejected in the top of the fifth for arguing a caught-stealing call at second. (Doesn’t he know that with Wieters behind the plate, the out is actually now automatic?) I bring this up apropos of nothing, really. I just really like Joe Maddon.
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