ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Manager Buck Showalter suffered his 1,000th career loss tonight on the two-year anniversary of his first game with the Orioles.
The result might have been different if the Orioles hadn’t gone 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10. And if Tommy Hunter hadn’t allowed two more home runs, though the lack of offensive support didn’t leave any margin for error.
“We did a lot of good things to get people out there, but there’s two sides to that coin. You’ve got to take advantage of them,” Showalter said. “A couple balls were hit out of the ballpark that made the difference tonight. Tommy didn’t make many mistakes. Tough to fault him. He was really good, and so were Darren (O’Day) and Troy (Patton). (Matt) Moore was wildly effective, and obviously he’s got a really good arm. We knew runs were going to be at a premium.
“I liked our chances if I knew we were only going to give up two there tonight, but they pitched real well. That’s why they’re able to do the things they do. They’re very deep in their pitching.”
Showalter removed Hunter after only 81 pitches in 5 2/3 innings.
“He pitched in New York the day before yesterday, too, and I thought he had given us what he needed to,” Showalter said. “Darren had three days off and I knew I could extend him a little bit. And Troy was rested. I thought it gave us the best chance to win.”
Moore struck out six batters in 5 1/3 innings, and the Rays fanned 11 Orioles on the night. Mark Reynolds struck out three times as the sixth hitter in the lineup, and Lew Ford and Wilson Betemit combined for three in the seventh slot.
“We’re not the only people striking out,” Showalter said. “He’s got good stuff. I think we had six strikeouts at six and seven. We kept getting there and couldn’t quite get it done. It’s been a challenge for us. I like that we’re getting people out there and getting an opportunity. We’ve just got to push them across.”
Hunter led the majors with 26 home runs allowed as he took a seat on the bench. B.J. Upton and Desmond Jennings took him deep.
“It sucks,” he said. “I don’t want to give up home runs. I don’t want to do that. I guess you could look at it positive. I’d much rather give up solo shots than with guys on, but you don’t want to give them up in general. It was mistakes.
“The first one was an 0-0 fastball. That’s going to happen to me, I guess. The second one was pretty frustrating. I had him set up for exactly what I wanted to happen and I just didn’t execute. That was just (crappy).”
The Orioles have scored two runs or fewer in 10 of Hunter’s last 15 starts while he’s been in the game.
“It’s not frustrating at all,” he said. “Those guys have hit for me before. They make playes for me. These guys, they play for me. I’ll take a loss every day if they’re going to come back and spot me five after I give up a five spot or something. You’re not going to have your stuff all the time, and these guys battle. They’ve battled for me the entire first half, actually, so it’s my turn to pick it up a little more and pick these guys up.”
Hunter didn’t second-guess Showalter’s decision to remove him from the game.
“I’m never going to tell you I don’t feel good,” he said. “It’s one of those things where it’s his decision. I would have liked to have stayed out there longer, just like anybody else would have said, but that’s part of the game. Darren came in and shut the door down. And Troy came in, so (Showalter) made the right move, I guess. I would like to say he made the right move.”