A familiar spot isn’t where the Orioles want to hunker down. They don’t find comfort on the wrong side of the score. The struggle to keep fighting back is real.
Harold Ramírez singled off Kyle Bradish tonight in the second inning, Brandon Lowe raced home, and the Orioles fell behind again. With their offense on mute.
Did they have a 36th comeback victory in them?
They didn’t have a run.
Zach Elfin tossed seven scoreless innings to outduel Kyle Bradish, and the Orioles relinquished sole possession of first place in the division with a 3-0 loss to the Rays before an announced crowd of 19,703 at Tropicana Field.
The Orioles were shut out for the seventh time, lowered their record to 59-38 and are percentage points ahead of Tampa Bay, which won for only the fourth time in 16 games.
Félix Bautista and Yennier Cano weren’t available tonight, leaving manager Brandon Hyde in a potential quandary. Who would close if the Orioles carried a small lead into the bottom of the ninth?
It never got that far.
Shintaro Fujinami made his Orioles makes debut in the seventh, pausing to lower his head in the bullpen before walking to the mound and surrendering a first-pitch home run to José Siri on a 99.4 mph fastball. He retired the next three batters, getting a pair of ground balls and striking out Wander Franco on a 94 mph splitter.
Three of his 12 pitches topped 100 mph.
"Got ambushed there that first pitch," said manager Brandon Hyde. "After that, wow. Thought he had great stuff. He was throwing over 100, he's got a really nice split. Siri came on the on-deck circle ready to swing. Guy's first pitch with us and being on a flight all night last night. But he settled in and pitched great after that."
Cionel Pérez retired the side in order with two strikeouts in the eighth.
Bradish recorded his 10th quality start, allowing two runs and six hits in six innings and keeping his ERA at 3.05, lowest in the rotation. He threw 93 pitches.
"I think fastball command has been really good," he said. "Using both of my breaking balls. Not walking guys. Just kind of out there pitching."
Bradish escaped a jam in the fourth after Isaac Paredes doubled with one out and Ramírez’s two-out ground ball ricocheted off third base for an infield hit. Siri grounded into a force to keep the score 1-0.
Shortstop Gunnar Henderson made a sliding stop of Randy Arozarena’s ground ball up the middle leading off the sixth, spun and threw from his knee. The next batter, Paredes, homered to left-center for a 2-0 lead.
"It came down to two mistakes, 0-2 fastball that got hit for a run, then the late-inning homer right there," Bradish said. "But overall solid outing. Slider was a little inconsistent."
Bradish hadn’t allowed two runs since June 25. He hasn’t permitted three since June 8 in Milwaukee.
He had zero margin for error tonight.
"He pitched extremely well," Hyde said. "Just a couple mistakes. One to Parades and the changeup in the middle part of the plate there to Ramírez. But besides that, I thought he had everything going. Quick innings. Threw the ball great."
Ryan O’Hearn led off the second inning by lining out to left field on the eighth pitch, one more than Eflin needed in the first to retire the side in order. Ryan Mountcastle doubled and was stranded.
Eflin retired 13 of 14, with an O’Hearn single in the fourth producing the only baserunner. Adley Rutschman walked with two outs in the sixth and Anthony Santander lined to Franco.
Twenty-four Orioles came to the plate against Eflin and three reached base. He allowed two hits and struck out eight.
Eflin was 8-1 with a 2.97 ERA after 11 starts, but 2-4 with a 4.66 ERA in the next seven before tonight.
"He was definitely sharp tonight," Hyde said. "Using both sides of the plate. They were getting balls down for strikes. Didn't leave a whole lot of balls in the middle part of the plate for us. We just had a tough time getting anything going against them."
Colin Poche struck out the side in the eighth, and Pete Fairbanks earned his 11th save to even the series with two games remaining. Rutschman walked with one out in the ninth and was stranded.
Fairbanks accounted for three of the Rays' 14 strikeouts.
"Just wasn't our night offensively," Hyde said.
* Daz Cameron ran his home run total to 14 by hitting two in Game 1 of Triple-A Norfolk’s doubleheader in Gwinnett. Joey Ortiz hit his sixth, and he also doubled.
Garrett Stallings tossed five scoreless innings with six hits allowed.
Alex Pham allowed one run and two hits in three innings for Double-A Bowie.
Kyle Brnovich, pitching for High-A Aberdeen as he comes back from Tommy John surgery, allowed one run with no walks and seven strikeouts in five innings.