Gabriel Ynoa pitches a gem as O’s top Tampa Bay (quotes added)

Orioles right-hander Gabriel Ynoa was making just his sixth career major league start tonight and third with the Orioles. If this was any sort of audition for him to be a rotation candidate for 2018, he passed the test tonight.

Ynoa allowed five hits over a career-high eight innings as the Orioles beat Tampa Bay 3-1 to start a four-game series. It is the final home series of the season.

Ynoa was in control most of the night. From the third batter of the third inning through the first of the eighth, he retired 15 of 17 batters without allowing a hit. He walked two and fanned three, throwing 94 pitches, 61 for strikes. His fastball was still touching 94 mph in the eighth and he featured a heavy sinker/slider mix tonight. Ynoa needed just 40 pitches over his last four innings.

Ynoa is now 2-2 with an ERA of 3.41 in eight games and three starts as an Oriole. In his six major league starts - three were with the Mets - he is 1-2 with a 3.18 ERA.

The right-hander had not pitched more than five innings in any of his previous big league starts. In his last two starts for the Orioles, he gave up six runs (five earned) over nine combined innings against the Indians and Yankees.

The Orioles won for just the second time in eight games and third in 15. They improved to 74-80 overall, 45-33 at home and 7-6 versus Tampa Bay.

The Orioles began the night with an offense that had not scored in the last two games and over the last 26 innings. But that quickly ended as they scored three in the last of the first.

Manny-Machado-watches-drops-bat-sidebar.jpgRight fielder Austin Hays led off and lined a pitch 105 mph into center for a single. Manny Machado then blasted a Matt Andriese 2-1 changeup over the wall in left for a two-run homer. Machado took over the team lead when he drilled No. 33 a distance of 411 feet. He missed last night’s game with an illness, but showed no signs of it on that swing.

Three batters later, the O’s lead grew to 3-0. Adam Jones doubled to right with one out and scored on Trey Mancini’s single to right. That hit extended Mancini’s hitting streak to a career-best 11 games.

The Rays got one back off Ynoa in the third. No. 8 hitter Brad Miller doubled to left. Daniel Robertson followed with a single that sent Miller to third and he scored on Hays’ error in right. That cut the Orioles lead to 3-1. Brad Brach pitched the ninth to wrap up the win.

In the second game of this series on Friday, right-hander Ubaldo Jiménez (6-10, 6.57 ERA) faces right-hander Alex Cobb (11-10, 3.63 ERA).

Postgame quotes:

Ynoa, through interpreter Ramón Alarcón on the game plan and planting a seed to help the team next year: “Command my fastball and then work on my breaking pitches and try to get the hitter out of balance. That was the game plan for today. Every game I take it as it’s the last game of my career. So I’m just trying to take advantage of these opportunities and show that I can help.”

Ynoa on pitching out of a jam in the first: “After the first inning, I was able to make the adjustments and calm down a little bit. I was too quick going to the plate and the angle of my arm was too low. But after that I felt more confident and I just calmed down.”

Mancini on playing defense behind Ynoa tonight: “It’s great. You feel like you’re in a rhythm out there too kind of like he is. He had a lot of first-pitch strikes. You kind of move position-wise, maybe a couple of steps in the gap or something like that. You get into a little routine. It’s hard to explain, but it’s fun to play behind him.”

Machado on Ynoa: “He did the job. He went in there and did everything he needed to do. We gave him a lead early on and he rolled with it. I think this was one of our quickest games we’ve played all year. He pounded the zone and wasn’t afraid of contact.”

Machado on returning to lineup tonight and homering: “You know, it was a grind. Still feeling it a little bit. Actually pretty good to go out there and play. I was just trying to win and good things happened.”

Machado on playing hard to the end: “It’s our goal. We still want to win. We’re a competitive team and we’re not going to stop fighting. We know it’s a longshot for us to make it. But we’ll keep doing what we need to do to keep winning. That’s all we know how to do around here.”

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