What a night for the Orioles.
Big plays, big pitches, big hits and a big win. One that put them in sole possession of first place in the American League East. They did against a Tampa Bay squad that started this year 13-0 and 27-6.
But while the Orioles (59-37, .615) have now won 10 of their last 12, Tampa Bay (60-40, .600) has lost five in a row and 12 of the last 15.
In July, the Orioles are 11-5 and the Rays are 3-12. Over the past 33 games, the Orioles are 20-13 while the Rays are 13-20. Tampa Bay is 31-33 its last 64 games.
It was a night where there were more than a few stars. Kyle Gibson provided an excellent start. Gunnar Henderson keyed a three-run inning with a hustle triple and played outstanding defense. Ramon Urias played excellent D and made what might have been a game-saving play with his diving stop that ended the last of the eighth. Rookie Colton Cowser, in his 11th big league game, got behind 0-2 but still hit a go-ahead sac fly in the top of the tenth. And the big man, Félix Bautista, who saved the game Wednesday on 12 pitches, got six big outs on 15 pitches in the ninth and tenth. Remarkable to do that with so few pitches, but he's still probably not available tonight.
In the end, the Orioles got a huge win and are 4-2 this year against Tampa Bay. Since early last season they are 13-9 in the last 22 games between these teams. Before that - from Aug. 25, 2020 to April 10, 2022 - they went 2-27 against the Rays.
The Orioles are now 17-11 in AL East games and 15-7 in their past 22 division games.
Game two of this series is tonight with right-hander Kyle Bradish (6-4, 3.05 ERA) facing righty Zach Eflin (10-5, 3.59 ERA).
Click here for the game story from the Trop last night.
Ohtani talk: All it took was an outlet like The Athletic to suggest the Orioles should make a run at pitcher/slugger Shohei Ohtani to get Birdland talking about the guy. Baseball America yesterday listed five teams that could make a strong run at Ohtani and the Orioles were one of them.
"The Orioles have the best young position player core in the game and plenty of ammunition to make a deal,” says BA of the Birds, who are listed along with the Dodgers, Rangers, Phillies and Reds.
This will only serve to excite those in Birdland hoping for this move which I consider the longest of long shots. So I’m saying there is a chance, right?
I’m also saying I would have a hard time parting with two top 100 prospects and that is probably what it would take to get the Angels to listen. And the package would go deeper than that. Maybe another player already a starter or solid performer at the MLB level with potentially one or more top 30 players added in. Or some of all of the above. It will likely take a lot to get a two-way All-Star talent even for a few months.
If that sounds like a lot for a rental it is. But he is not your average rental of course. Ohtani leads the AL in OPS as of yesterday at 1.075 and also ranks 12th in AL in ERA. He’s a remarkable talent that would instantly make the team better not to mention sell some tickets and create a massive buzz around the club. It’s like getting two top talents in one remarkable player.
If the Orioles added him and went on to win the World Series, that would be one thing. And that is no guarantee for any team of course. But I would think there would be a great chance he is headed to free agency and would be very unlikely to sign here long term. So long after he is gone a player that ranks in the top 100 right now would possibly still be helping his new team and maybe for many years.
Giving up a big package of top young talent for Ohtani may be a move many would consider or maybe even make. I wouldn't do it.