Zobrist is now 10-for-24 lifetime against Chen, who could use some assistance from his defense. He also will take any clean inning that comes his way, considering his 1.969 WHIP and opponents’ .412 average before tonight.
The first six Rays have been retired tonight, and Chen has thrown 20 pitches. They haven’t gotten a ball out of the infield. Second baseman Steve Lombardozzi made a diving stop to rob James Loney and end the second.
The Orioles gave Chen a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, with Matt Wieters again producing from the left side of the plate, and again when facing the Rays.
Nelson Cruz singled off Tampa Bay starter Chris Archer and Chris Davis walked with one out. Adam Jones grounded into a force at second, and Wieters lined a single up the middle to score Cruz.
Wieters is now 10-for-27 with four RBIs against right-handed pitching.
Archer threw 24 pitches in the first. Danger zone.
If the Orioles are going to play in October this season, they’ve got to fare better against the Rays. Their biggest rivals aren’t exclusively the Red Sox and Yankees.
The Orioles were 6-13 against Tampa Bay last season, including 3-6 at Camden Yards. They’ve lost 11 of the last 13 games.
Manager Buck Showalter said the Orioles are trying to “get to their level.”
“We’ve got a lot more work to do before we could be mentioned, with the consistency that they’ve had,” he said. “They’ve been consistently competitive for a long time. We hope at some point this season we look like we’re competitive with them. They’ve got a lot of weapons. A lot of weapons.”
Wieters is the Orioles’ biggest weapon against the Rays, with his .333 career average before tonight the highest in the majors for any player with a minimum of 150 at-bats. His 53 RBIs are tied with Robinson Cano for second behind Adam Lind (54), and his 15 home runs are fourth since 2009.
Wieters’ 15 homers are the most that he’s hit against one club. He’s hit 13 versus the Yankees.
Delmon Young had two assists yesterday, the 56th time an Orioles outfielder has recorded two or more in a game in franchise history. Adam Jones was the last on Sept. 28, 2011 against the Red Sox.
Only two Orioles outfielders have recorded three assists in a game. Name them without looking it up. (Answer below).
Nick Markakis’ next extra-base hit will tie him with Rafael Palmeiro (434) for ninth place on the Orioles’ all-time list. With 1,384 hits, he’s 19 shy of tying Al Bumbry for ninth place.
Cruz needs five RBIs to reach 500 in his career. Steve Lombardozzi needs three more hits to reach 200. Chris Tillman needs 5 2/3 innings to reach 500. Ryan Webb needs four strikeouts to reach 200.
Answer: Joe Orsulak (Sept. 9, 1991 against the Indians) and John Shelby (Sept. 11, 1983 against the Yankees).
Update: The Orioles scored five runs in three games against Toronto. They already have four tonight in two innings.
J.J. Hardy doubled to lead off the second, took third on Lombardozzi’s ground ball to the right side and scored on Ryan Flaherty’s soft single into left field. Flaherty scored on Cruz’s two-out double, and Chris Davis followed with an RBI double off the fence in left-center field.
The Orioles have worked Archer for 51 pitches in two innings.