The Orioles got length tonight from starter Kyle Gibson. They got a quality start, only the eighth in 35 games, and with the veteran right-hander responsible for half.
But would they get the win?
Gibson deserved it, and not just for again knocking down the five-inning wall. He held the Rays to one run through the sixth and came out after Luke Raley’s soft leadoff single.
The Rays loaded the bases with no outs against Bryan Baker, and Raley scored on Wander Franco’s fly ball to leave Gibson with two runs on his line. The Orioles couldn’t yank the loss from him, falling 3-0 before an announced crowd of 12,669 at Camden Yards.
Raley homered off Keegan Akin in the ninth, and the Orioles (22-13) have their first three-game losing streak and second shutout. Tampa Bay improved its record to 29-7, the best in baseball.
The Orioles are 11-1 in series openers.
Ramón Urías singled with two outs in the ninth and was hobbling to first base. He left the game after first base coach Anthony Sanders motioned to the dugout.
"He's got a left hamstring strain," said manager Brandon Hyde. "We're going to reevaluate tomorrow. I don't have anymore information at this time about it."
A trip to the injured list could lead the Orioles to recall Joey Ortiz. They also could select Jordan Westburg's contract and remove a player from the 40-man roster.
Josh Lowe led off the second inning with a home run to right-center field at 113.3 mph off the bat. That was the extent of Tampa Bay’s scoring with Gibson on the mound. He allowed six hits, walked two batters and struck out four.
Gibson retired 11 of the next 12 batters before the Rays loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth on singles by Yandy Díaz and Franco and a four-pitch walk to Randy Arozarena. Brandon Lowe flew to shallow right field on Gibson’s 76th pitch.
Ryan McKenna ran down José Siri’s 392-foot fly ball to the center field track, with an expected batting average of .830, to complete an 11-pitch sixth. Hyde made the change with Gibson at 93.
"I think every time out you've got to be self-critical, which I'm going to be, but my goal is to keep the team in the game," Gibson said. "Sometimes, against a guy like (Shane) McClanahan, two or three runs doesn't do it. Sometimes, you can go out there and give up three or four and you did the job. Human nature tells me I threw the ball well, but I'd like to have that first pitch back to Lowe. Trying to execute a sinker down and away and I just didn't do it. And I think we still had the right pitch there against Raley in the seventh and he did a good job of really fighting it off. A lot of times that pitch either gets taken or it gets fouled off and I get another chance, but he did a good job of putting that ball in play."
Gibson held the Rays to one earned run or fewer in four of his last five starts against them before tonight.
"He threw the ball great," Hyde said. "Really good sinker. Pitched out of some trouble early. Really awesome job getting into the seventh inning for us on a night after a 12-inning game. Just really competed well. Unfortunately, that run in the seventh is his, but he threw the ball outstanding."
Baker stumbled on the mound and threw a wild pitch after replacing Gibson. He walked the next two batters, Franco flew to center and Díaz was thrown out advancing to second. A much-needed double play for Baker.
Akin struck out three of his first four batters before Raley burned him.
McClanahan was his usual stingy self, shutting out the Orioles on four hits with seven strikeouts in six innings, but they certainly had their chances. They went 0-for-5 against him with runners in scoring position after going 1-for-14 over 12 innings yesterday in Atlanta.
Anthony Santander doubled off the left field wall with one out in the sixth, slow to leave the box until realizing he’d fall short of a home run. He made it to third base and was stranded.
“The Orioles are playing great baseball right now, they're a fun team to watch,” McClanahan said.
“That's a fun team to play. You always want to be the best, but you've got to play the best.”
McClanahan was done after 102 pitches. He became the third pitcher in Rays history to win his first seven decisions of the season and the first since Charlie Morton went 8-0 in 2019, according to STATS. His six wins against the Orioles are the most against any opponent.
More McClanahan: His eight starts to begin a season with two runs or fewer and five strikeouts or more, and his team winning, ties Fernando Valenzuela’s record set in 1981. Former Orioles pitcher Ubaldo Jiménez had six with the Rockies in 2010.
"He's really good," Hyde said. "He's 97-100 with two excellent breaking balls and throwing a really good changeup to right-handed hitters, too. We put a couple rallies together. We just didn't get a big hit. Kind of like yesterday. But when you're facing somebody like that, I thought we grinded. We just had a tough time against him."
McKenna singled off Colin Poche with two outs in the seventh and Austin Hays doubled down the left field line, but Adley Rutschman struck out. Rutschman fanned three times to tie his career high and is hitless in his last 18 at-bats.
"I thought he hit some balls hard in Atlanta," Hyde said. "For me, it's 18 at-bats out of 600-plus at-bats that he's going to have."
The Orioles are off the road again, returning to Baltimore for their longest homestand of the season at 10 games. The Rays aren’t going to be low-maintenance guests with a start that’s the second-best behind the 1984 Tigers.
“They’re obviously off to an unbelievable start,” manager Brandon Hyde said this afternoon. “It’s a really, really good team, and we just faced a good team in Atlanta. Like the way we’re playing right now, and hopefully we play well this series.”
They did on the first night of it, except for the lack of support for Gibson.
The Rays began tonight with the most runs scored in the first inning with 33, and the first two batters reached against Gibson.
Díaz walked and Franco beat out a bouncer to the right side. They moved up on Arozarena’s grounder to the mound, but Brandon Lowe struck out and Taylor Walls grounded out.
The Orioles’ 11 runs in the first were the second fewest in the majors behind the Mets’ nine. McClanahan struck out two batters, Ryan Mountcastle singled and Santander grounded into a force.
McClanahan retired the first two batters in the second, walked Adam Frazier and Urías, received a mound visit from pitching coach Kyle Snyder after falling behind 2-0 to McKenna, and got a fly ball to right.
Santander drew an eight-pitch walk leading off the fourth and Jorge Mateo reached on a bunt single, with McClanahan slipping and falling while trying to field it and getting back on his feet slowly. Athletic trainer Joe Benge, who held the same job for 10 years in the Orioles’ system, raced out to check on him.
Arozarena ran down James McCann’s fly ball near the left field line, and Franco chased down Frazier’s popup in shallow left and doubled off Santander, who had reached third base thinking the ball would drop.
Hyde still isn’t interested in critiquing whether the Orioles are in the soft or hard portion of their schedule. He didn’t care in Detroit or Atlanta, and he won’t be drawn into the narrative with Tampa Bay in town.
“It’s the beginning of May, and we’ve got a long way to go,” he said.
“Just trying to win every series right now and just try to take it day-to-day, and whoever’s in front of us, we play.”
They're playing a juggernaut on a small budget.
"They execute on offense," Gibson said. "When they need to, they put really good swings, and there's never an at-bat where you feel you can take a couple pitches off. Even when you have good stuff, like I felt like I did tonight, you have to execute pitches on a consistent basis. They make you work, they don't take ABs off, and good teams that are filled with good hitters that don't take at-bats off no matter how the game score is, they're challenging. It's a mental game for as long as you're out there.
"It's a lot of fun. Those are the challenging times where you enjoy being out there. That's what makes this game beautiful, going out there and competing against the best and seeing where you match up."
Where do the Orioles match up after losing two one-run games in Atlanta and by a 3-0 score tonight?
"You look at Atlanta, we scored more runs over the series, played better than them for probably 28 of the 30 innings and we lost two games," Gibson said. "All the time against really good teams, that's how a three-game series can go. Tonight, a couple at-bats here and there on offense for us and on defense, we could win that game 3-0. But I've told these guys a couple times, when you get two really good teams like that, and they've seen it, it's the little things that end up making a 3-0 run feel like it wasn't close. But it was a close game. They executed on offense when they needed to and they got an insurance run there late. We just couldn't get a hit when we needed to, but those are going to fall, those hits are going to come, and hopefully tomorrow we'll be on the right side.
"I think this team knows how to win. I think these guys, you look back at last year, how well they played, how well we played to start here, against really good teams. That's the first time we haven't won the first game of a series. That says a lot for a young team to show up for a three-game series every single time and be 1-0 after the first game. That's why, if you walk through here right now, the vibe is pretty positive. We know that we've been playing really good baseball. This isn't a three-game losing streak where we've shot ourselves in the foot and we haven't played well. We've been in all three of them, and one swing away from winning each game.
"We feel really good about where we're at. We're playing really good baseball, and if we keep doing this over the long stretch, we're going to be right where we want to be."
* Reliever Joey Krehbiel cleared waivers today and accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Norfolk. Krehbiel was designated for assignment when the Orioles traded for catcher Luis Torrens.
Krehbiel has allowed two runs and five hits with seven walks and six strikeouts in nine innings with the Tides.
* Cedric Mullins pinch-hit in the ninth, struck out, and has appeared in every game.