It is hard to keep your momentum going in baseball and stay riding a high when your team loses. And after an upbeat Friday and a 10-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays, the Orioles lost big on Saturday by 8-2 at Tropicana Field.
Now these teams meet one more time this weekend and this season, and the weekend series and season series will be determined by today’s result. That is big for the Orioles as head-to-head results will break standings ties at the end of the year.
And should they tie with Tampa Bay for any spot, including any of three wild card playoff berths, today’s game will be the decider after 18 games and nine wins for each side.
If the Orioles and Rays tied for the third wild card spot, for instance, the season series winner would advance while the other team would go home. So yeah, big game today.
Lefty DL Hall had a poor outing in his big league debut, allowing five runs and five hits in 3 2/3 innings. After he gave up a run in the last of the first, he struck out the side in the second, getting swings and misses for strikeouts on fastballs at 96 and 97 mph. It was a dominant inning and looked like he was settling in. But, with two outs and a man on first in the Rays third, he allowed three straight run-scoring hits as Tampa Bay opened a 4-2 lead on its way to the win.
Hall, who went 2-6 with a 4.76 ERA in 18 Triple-A starts, threw 76 pitches, 47 for strikes against the Rays. He used his fastball 58 percent of the time, throwing 44 of the four-seamers. They averaged 95.4 mph and his fastball topped at 97.2.
Hall just did not have solid command, and got ahead of just nine of 19 hitters. After the game, manager Brandon Hyde said Hall is being optioned back to Norfolk to work as a reliever and will rejoin the Orioles later in a bullpen role.
No, I don’t think this is a lasting or long-term change, but he is a bullpen pitcher for now. It seems likely this is just for this year to help limit his innings. He’s at 81 1/3 innings this year after throwing zero innings in a minors game during the 2020 season (though he did pitch at the alternate site) and throwing 31 2/3 innings last year.
The thinking seems to be to let him get used to pitching in relief for a short time with the Tides before he returns to the Orioles. When he does, he should give the team another multi-inning reliever, which could be very useful.
As for today, it’s a big game between two starting pitchers that have been throwing well. Righty Jordan Lyles (9-8, 4.35 ERA) goes for the Orioles. He has a 1.53 ERA his last three starts and is 5-1 with a 3.22 ERA over his past eight games. Lyles has thrown 100 pitches or more in seven of his last eight starts.
Today he faces Rays righty Drew Rasmussen (6-4, 2.96 ERA), making his 20th start. Over his last seven games his ERA is 2.16 with one homer over 33 1/3 and a .644 OPS against.