ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - It could take hours to dissect all of the moments and decisions that helped to shape the Orioles’ 8-7 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays tonight at Tropicana Field. We don’t have that kind of time, so let’s just get to the highlights.
Wondering why Wei-Yin Chen was removed from the game after 5 2/3 innings and 84 pitches?
“It was a good first start for him,” said manager Buck Showalter. “He was a little up early but he made some adjustments and got the ball down and went to some secondary stuff a little later. We took him about where we wanted to take him in his first start. I’m proud of him. He’s in a good spot.
“We were thinking 85-90 and that’s about where he was. He was starting to elevate the ball a little bit and he got away with a pitch that ended up just being a single before he came out.”
Wondering why Jim Johnson didn’t pitch the ninth with the game tied 7-7?
“We needed him to close the game out and he pitched last night, just like (Darren) O’Day had,” Showalter said. “You’ve got to think about the big picture. J.J. had been up already. It’s only the second game of the season. You want these guys around for the long haul.”
Pedro Strop allowed three runs and four hits in the seventh inning. Rays closer Fernando Rodney blew the save by allowing a run in the ninth.
“I thought it was kind of ironic,” Showalter said. “You had Pete and Rodney who were kind of 1-2 in the WBC. It’s a hard thing to do. I think Pete gave up one hard-hit ball, but it’s just one of those nights. But I thought Nolan (Reimold) worked a real tough walk off Rodney and B-Rob (Brian Roberts) had a real big hit for us. We’d like to have been able to get the ball to J.J. there, but we weren’t able to do it. A lot of things went on in that game, some things that I’m proud of.”
Matt Joyce reached on a bunt single against the Orioles’ shift in the seventh inning and he hit the walk-off home run off Tommy Hunter in the ninth.
“I’ll let the guy who hit the home run to end the game bunt whenever he wants to, especially with Strop on the mound, who’s probably one of our best athletes,” Showalter said. “You see both sides of it. You see why you don’t want him to swing.”