Crooked Frames - Orioles loses 12-to-10
Written by Mike Laws
Crooked frames, crooked frames
Six-run eighth not enough to overcome huge hole
Tampa Bay 12, Orioles 10
And to think, with two innings played, the Orioles’ prospects had actually looked pretty good. True, Jason Hammel was scuffling along, needing in excess of twenty pitches in both his trips to the hill thus far — but he’d also limited the damage in the first, conceding only an Evan Longoria sacrifice fly after Matt Joyce swatted a single and Ben Zobrist a double; and in the second he’d fan a pair of Rays hitters to strand men at first and second. It wasn’t particularly pretty, but then that’s been true of Hammel all year, and he was 5-1, coming into this first of three with Tampa. What’s more, there were some encouraging signs: namely, that Hammel appeared to be getting a feel for his breaking pitches, command of which had wholly deserted him in the first, but which he began deploying with aplomb toward the end of the second.
… It’s just too bad home-plate ump Mark Carlson didn’t get the memo. On to the bullet points:
- Meanwhile, through the first two, the Oriole offense had supplied its starter with more of that loving run support. Nate McLouth broke out of an 0-for-14 skid with a single into right, leading off the Baltimore first, after which Manny Machado turned on a Jeremy Hellickson fastball, ripping it over third and into left, good for yet another double. Kid is beyond red-hot. And while Nick Markakis followed with a first-ball-swinging flare-out to short, and Adam Jones struck out (unable to lay off some of that low junk he’s been so good about, so far this year), Chris Davis delivered in the two-out clutch, pounding a single through the semi-shifted defense into right off a 2-1 Hellickson curve. 2-1, O’s — soon to be 3-1, early in their half of the second, when J.J. Hardy continued his hot streak by lacing a 2-0 fastball into the seats in (where else?) straightaway left.
- So things were looking up, heading into the third. Sadly, that wouldn’t be the case for long. Having already put some good swings on Hammel their first time through, the Rays were now poised to really pounce — though it should be said that Hammel again did his game best to hold the opposition to a single run. A pair of one-out singles (Zobrist, Longoria) set up a first-and-third situation for James Loney, who sliced the first offering he saw to left, deep enough for Tampa Bay’s second sac-fly of the evening. 3-2. It was at this point that Carlson et al. blew their first balls-and-strikes call, ruling that Luke Scott hadn’t gone around on a 2-1 Hammel slider (he clearly had). The mutton-chopped Scott would draw a walk on the next pitch. So now it was first and second, two down, Hammel’s pitch count still rising to an alarming level. Nevertheless, he’d get up quickly on Kelly Johnson, nothing-and-two — when, after wasting a couple, attempting to get Johnson to chase, Hammel broke off a nasty slider that looked to the naked eye (and to PitchFX) like it’d caught the inside corner easily. The fans seemed to agree. Gary Thorne and Jim Palmer seemed to agree. About the only person in all of Camden Yards who didn’t was the only one who mattered, Carlson. And wouldn’t you know it, on the very next pitch Hammel left a fastball out over the outer half, and Johnson stroked it deep to right, off the top of the grounds-crew dugout, whence it bounded into the stands in right. 5-3, Tampa Bay …
- But quibble all we might, it wasn’t like Hammel had the good stuff going. He somehow retired the side in order in the fourth — despite falling behind to each Rays hitter he faced in the frame — but that was to be the eye in this turdstorm. Repeating their third-inning outburst, the Rays would plate four more runs on four more hits, in the fifth — though, again, most of the damage came with two down. After Loney singled and Scott walked (again) and (again) Johnson took Hammel deep to right, this time high off the out-of-town scoreboard, Markakis was able to gun the Tampa Bay left fielder down at second. 6-3, now, man on third, two away, and the night was at an end for Hammel, who gave way to Alex Burnett. Who would … not fare well. Burnett began his second appearance with the O’s by walking catcher Jose Lobaton on four pitches. Then, capping an extended at-bat, Yunel Escobar ground-rule doubled on a 3-2 pitch, driving the Burnett offering over Jones’s head and off the warning track to dead center. Second and third, still two out, 7-3 Tampa — and then Desmond Jennings tagged a hanging two-strike breaking ball over the infield into short center. 9-3, Rays …
- And while Machado would cut into the deficit, in the following half-inning (an RBI groundout plating Yamaico Navarro, who’d led things off with a triple), Tampa wasn’t done yet. Longoria bounced Burnett from the ballgame with another ground-ruler, this one to right, to start the sixth; Loney slapped another single to greet Troy Patton; Scott delivered yet another sac-fly; Johnson crushed yet another double to right; Escobar singled to center. Three runs on five hits, this time. The Rays, it’d turn out, were done for the night, but it was now 12-4: a laugher.
- But hold up jusssssssst a minute. There was no way the Orioles were coming back from that, was there? After all, following the Navarro triple in the fifth, the offense had done little of note, sending the minimum three men to the dish to finish the fifth, and again in the sixth and seventh, ensuring a deep outing from the baby-faced Hellickson. Oh, well, better luck tomorrow — right? Not exactly. McLouth greeted Hellickson in the eighth with a triple past a diving Jennings in left-center. Machado followed with his second consecutive run-scoring groundout to short. 12-5, bases empty. Now what? Well, Markakis would shoot an 0-2 single into left — but then Jones bounced into a fielder’s choice to third, narrowly beating the relay to avoid the twin-killing. Even so, there were now two away, with any lingering hope fading fast — but then Davis, on Hellickson’s hundred-and-first delivery of the game, laced a double over first and into the right-field corner. And then Matt Wieters singled to center, scoring both Jones and Davis. Goodbye, Hellickson, hello, Kyle Farnsworth. Who delivered a strike to Hardy, before Hardy also singled. First and second, 12-7, setting up Chris Dickerson’s turn to come through with back firmly against wall. Dickerson took a ball, then a strike, then ripped an elevated down-the-middle Farnsworth fastball over the scoreboard in right. Six runs in, and the O’s were right back in it, however improbably: 12-10, now …
- … and with Camden Yards rocking, Navarro would polish off an extended at-bat (eight pitches, two fouled off) with an infield single to third. That brought the tie run to the plate in the person of McLouth — but Rays skipper Joe Maddon had seen enough, opting (with his closer, Fernando Rodney, having worked the day prior) for Joel Peralta. Who promptly delivered a pair of balls, falling behind 2-0, after which McLouth, in a good hitter’s count, with the crowd absolutely batty … lifted a high, lazy fly ball to left, finally ending the big inning. And from there, sadly, Peralta would cruise through the ninth, ignoring the noisy Oriole Park and retiring the meat of the Baltimore order on a Machado pop-out to second, a Markakis pop-out to third, and a fly-out to center from Jones. No more rally, no more runs. The hole had just been too deep. 12-10, Rays, is your final.
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