Ryan McKenna dived across home plate today in the second inning, hopped to his feet with hands clenched into fists, and yelled. The energy that’s been running through this team reaching high voltage.
The unfortunate part of the day for the Orioles was how quickly the Rays flipped the switch. The familiar part was the comeback by a team that stubbornly refuses to submit to its apparent fate.
The Orioles had to settle for another moral victory. They’d rather get the kind that's reflected in the standings.
Rookie Kyle Bradish surrendered four runs in the top of the third inning and two more in the fifth before the Orioles stormed back to tie the game in the sixth. Dillon Tate loaded the bases in the ninth, and Harold Ramírez’s sacrifice fly gave the Rays a 7-6 win at Camden Yards.
A walk, single and hit batter set the stage for Ramírez, who lined to right fielder Trey Mancini.
"Good fight from our guys," said manager Brandon Hyde. "We got some big hits and clawed back in the game, and I thought our bullpen did a great job giving us a chance. We just had a tough time there scoring in the last few innings."
Bradish, in his 10th major league start, served up Ji-Man Choi’s two-run homer in the fifth inning, giving Tampa Bay a 6-2 lead. He allowed six runs and 11 hits in 4 1/3 innings to raise his ERA to 7.38.
The Orioles (29-38) had won five of their last seven games and tried to move seven below .500 for the first time since May 23 in New York.
"For me, it's a young starter still trying to figure things out," Hyde said of Bradish. "The command I thought was better the first time through the order today. In that third, gave up a couple soft hits to lead off the inning and it kind of snowballed on him a little bit there. The command is a work in progress right now.
"I thought he had good stuff again. Just got to get a little bit better command. Got to be able to locate a little bit better."
Asked if there's any consideration to sending down Bradish, as the Orioles did Thursday with Bruce Zimmermann, Hyde said, "No. Hasn't been talked about."
Robinson Chirinos doubled twice, singled and drove in four runs by the fifth inning. His bases-loaded single off Matt Wisler with two outs in the fifth, a slow roller that sneaked into right field, scored Ryan Mountcastle and Anthony Santander to reduce the lead to 6-5.
Chirinos also stole his fifth career base and first since Sept. 14, 2019.
Asked if he's feeling better about his offense, Chirinos smiled and said, "Today."
"I figured out something in the cage today," he said. "I think it's going to make a difference in my season, so that was good to feel that in the cage and see the result in the game right away."
The adjustment is getting ready earlier to make contact and keeping his body from going in and out of the zone.
"Today, I figured out something to, first, get ready, and second, to be more square to the pitch and stay through the zone," he said.
Mancini reached with two outs in the sixth after shortstop Taylor Walls overran his ground ball, then Mountcastle walked and Santander lined a game-tying single into right field.
Santander was playing in his second game since leaving the restricted list. Keegan Akin, who also was prohibited from entering Canada, tossed two scoreless innings with three strikeouts.
Bradish hasn’t completed five innings in his last five starts and six of seven. The 11 hits were a career high, two more than his previous start over 4 1/3.
"My slider, I said it after last outing, it just hasn't been there," he said. "Today it wasn't there again."
Bradish is learning how to handle the adversity that didn't often find him in the minors.
"It's probably one of the first times it's happened to me in my career," he said. "It's definitely a learning experience and I'm learning at the highest point in baseball, so just got to keep grinding through it, keep working in between starts.
"I am capable of pitching in the big leagues. I try to think back to my debut and the St. Louis start. Those were the two good ones that I've had in the 10. So, time to start putting up some results."
Tampa Bay left-hander Jeffrey Springs shut out the Orioles on one hit over 5 2/3 scoreless innings in an earlier start in Baltimore. The O's scored twice today in the second inning on Chirinos’ two-run double after Tyler Nevin’s leadoff single and McKenna’s bunt hit.
Chirinos moved to third base on Jorge Mateo’s grounder and Austin Hays drew an eight-pitch walk with two outs, but Springs kept the deficit at two. The Orioles wouldn’t break open the game as they did Thursday in Toronto.
Chirinos also doubled in the fourth, the ball hitting the left field wall. Mancini flied to the left field warning track to end the eighth. Yes, any other year …
Springs was done after Mountcastle singled with one out in the fifth to score Hays, who led off with a single and advanced on a wild pitch and ground ball.
The first four batters reached against Bradish in the third, and Manuel Margot tied the game with a two-run double. Mateo made a leaping catch to rob Choi and Randy Arozarena struck out, but Ramírez gave Tampa Bay a 4-2 lead with a two-run double to right field on a 3-0 pitch. Ramírez was thrown out at third base.
"Those guys found a way to extend that inning and I think it was the difference in the game right there," Chirinos said.
"When (Bradish is) struggling, he can't land the breaking ball for a strike, he's getting behind, and we have to throw a fastball like the one Ramírez hit. We're behind 3-0 and he he hit a double. He's been working hard to get ahead. He's learning to throw his breaking ball for a strike. He can throw his fastball in the zone. I think he gets in trouble when he can't throw the curveball and the slider for a strike. Hopefully, he figures it out and is able to do that.
"We go back to the game in St. Louis. He was slider for a strike, then 0-2, putaway slider. I think he needs to go back and do that, you know? It's the big leagues. You have to make adjustments. He's working hard to do that. I see him turn around and be able to give us a chance to win every time he's on the mound. So, hopefully next time he can go deep in the game and give this team a chance to win a game."
Choi’s homer came after Yandy Díaz led off the fifth with a double to center field – his third hit of the day.
"I wasn't putting guys away in (the third) inning," Bradish said, "and then gave up some soft contact and then gave up some barrels."
Akin replaced Bradish, making his first appearance since Sunday in Kansas City. Today marked his second game since June 4.
Joey Krehbiel returned to the bullpen today after the Orioles activated him from the injured list, and he retired both batters he faced. They optioned reliever Logan Gillaspie to Triple-A Norfolk after last night’s game.
“Tough decision, because except for one or two little hiccups, Logan’s been great for us,” Hyde said.
“I think that, as you start getting more talented, you have tougher decisions. Logan’s not somebody we wanted to send down by any means. I like his stuff. He’s just getting his feet wet in the big leagues. It’s an amazing story of how far he’s come. But I’m sure you’ll see him back up here soon. It’s just one of those roster decisions you have to make at times, and guys with options, etc.”
Adley Rutschman didn’t crack the lineup today. He’ll be behind the plate for Sunday’s series finale.
“This was a planned day off,” Hyde said. “He’s played eight days in a row, whether it’s DH/catch, so we’re going to monitor his workload and we’re going to monitor his swings, etc., with him.”
Cedric Mullins joined Rutschman on the bench, but he didn’t stay there. He pinch-hit for McKenna in the fifth and walked to load the bases with two outs, keeping the rally alive for Chirinos.
“He’s played a lot,” Hyde said, explaining Mullins’ absence from the lineup. “And honestly, two of the four days in Toronto on the turf is not easy.”
Jordan Lyles starts Sunday, the Orioles are off Monday and Tyler Wells could pitch Tuesday on normal rest.
Hyde said the starter “probably will be within,” rather than the club calling up a pitcher from Triple-A.