What a wild game. What a bad ending for the Orioles.
Matt Joyce hit a solo homer off Tommy Hunter leading off the last of the ninth as Tampa Bay beat the Orioles 8-7 to leave both clubs 1-1. Joyce entered the game as a pinch hitter in the seventh and had a key bunt single then.
Last year, the Orioles were an AL-best 14-2 when the game was tied after eight innings. They were also 29-9 in one-run games but now are 0-1 in 2013.
The Orioles bullpen allowed six runs in this game as the O’s blew leads of 4-0 and 5-4 and then could not hold the tie in the ninth to get to extra innings.
The loss overshadowed Chris Davis’ huge game. He went 4-for-4 with a single, two doubles and a homer and the four hits tied his career high. He hit a three-run homer to left off Jeremy Hellickson in the first and added an RBI single in the sixth. Through two games, he is 5-for-8 with two homers and seven RBIs.
Tonight, Davis became the first in Orioles’ history to collect three or more RBIs in the first two games of a season.
Perhaps even more amazing, Davis has homered nine times in his last nine regular season games. He hit seven over the final seven games of last year, including homering in six consecutive games to tie Reggie Jackson’s club record. Now he has homered in both games so far.
The Orioles took a 4-0 lead to the last of the sixth, but after allowing a double and single to the first four hitters that frame, Wei-Yin Chen was pulled after 84 pitches. Two hitters later, Shelley Duncan hit a game-tying three-run homer off Luis Ayala.
After a Nate McLouth RBI single made it 5-4 O’s in the seventh, Tampa Bay produced a bunt single and ground single against an O’s over-shifted defense to key a three-run rally for the lead against Pedro Strop in the bottom half. Strop and Ayala allowed five runs plus an inherited run over those two innings.
Down 7-5, the O’s scored once each in the eighth and ninth to tie the game. Matt Wieters came up with an RBI single in the eighth and the O’s tagged a blown save on Fernando Rodney - who went 48-for-50 in save chances last season - in the ninth. They tied it on a Brian Roberts’ RBI double, but couldn’t score Roberts from third with one out to gain the lead.
Then Joyce ended it on one swing as the O’s scored seven runs against Tampa Bay’s staff for the second day in a row, but this time it didn’t net a win.