ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Orioles manager Buck Showalter ordered an intentional walk to Rays left fielder Matt Joyce with first base open and two outs in the sixth inning. Another left-handed hitter, Casey Kotchman, stood on deck, but Showalter didn't want the Guthrie-Joyce matchup in that situation.
Here's why it made sense: Joyce homered and singled tonight, making him 8-for-20 lifetime against Jeremy Guthrie. Joyce also led the American League in batting before tonight with a .358 average.
Here's why it was a gamble: Kotchman was 0-for-2 tonight, but he entered the game 8-for-17 with a home run and five RBIs against Guthrie. And he was batting .360 on the season, though he didn't have enough at-bats to qualify for the AL lead.
Here's what happened: Kotchman worked Guthrie for 10 pitches before grounding to second baseman Brian Roberts.
Joyce's homer has provided the only runs in this game. Once again, Guthrie can't get any offensive support, and one bad pitch could decide the outcome.
Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson has retired eight of the last nine batters.
The Orioles have scored in one of their last 21 innings.
Update: Guthrie turned in his fifth quality start tonight, holding the Rays to three runs and seven hits in eight innings, with two walks and five strikeouts. Johnny Damon's two-out solo homer in the eighth, on a two-strike pitch, increased Tampa Bay's lead to 3-0.
The Orioles haven't scored in five of the last seven games while Guthrie has been on the mound.