Nick Hundley picked an opportune time tonight to hit his first home run as an Oriole.
Hundley led off the bottom of the sixth inning by lining the second pitch from Rays reliever Juan Carlos Oviedo, a 90 mph fastball, into the left field seats to break a 1-1 tie.
Oviedo had just entered the game as the replacement for starter Jake Odorizzi, who threw 106 pitches in five innings.
Hundley was batting .195 with no homers and four RBIs with the Orioles before tonight. He hit one homer with the Padres back on April 20 off someone named Tim Lincecum.
Maybe you’ve heard of him.
The Orioles are 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and have stranded nine. They couldn’t score in the fifth after loading the bases with one out against Odorizzi.
J.J. Hardy fouled out to first baseman James Loney and David Lough struck out to bring a chorus of boos from the stands.
In Game 1, the Orioles were 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and stranded four.
In Chris Tillman’s last two starts, he’s allowed only one run in 13 innings. In his last four, he’s permitted five runs in 26 innings.
Tillman has held the Rays to one run through the sixth tonight. He retired 12 of 14 following Loney’s home run in the second before a reversed call gave Kevin Kiermaier an infield hit. Evan Longoria singled with two outs, but Loney flied out on Tillman’s 86th pitch.
Tillman has allowed four hits, walked one and struck out two. His ERA is down to 4.27.
Manager Buck Showalter started Caleb Joseph behind the plate in Game 1, and the rookie threw out two more baserunners to make him 12-for-24 according to baseball-reference.com. He had his feet set to throw before receiving a Tillman pitch, which led to another out at second base - a trick that Matt Wieters has passed along to him.
Joseph figures teams keep running on him because he’s a relative unknown in the league.
“Sure,” he said. “As long as I keep throwing them out, it feels good. Being a rookie, you’re going to be presented with challenges - defensively, offensively, everything. They’re going to try and trick you up a little bit when you’re on offense, and they’re going to try and do the same on defense. We would probably do the same thing if we had a rookie catcher back there.
“It’s just part of the game, and pitchers are doing a great job at giving me an opportunity to throw them out. We’ll just keep trying our best.”
Update: Nelson Cruz got a hit with a runner in scoring position, his two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh increasing the Orioles’ lead to 4-1.
Adam Jones led off with a double to give him four hits, tying his career high, and Cruz reached the flag court in right against reliever Joel Peralta. Cruz, Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Abreu are tied for the major league lead in home runs with 25. Cruz is first in RBIs with 66.
Jones has raised his average to .302.
David Lough reached on a bunt single in the seventh for his first two-hit game since June 1.
Tillman has thrown 94 pitches in seven innings. He’s allowed one run in his last two starts over 14 innings, and five runs in his last four starts over 27 innings.
Update II: Game over. The Orioles gain a split with a 4-1 win over the Rays in Game 2.
Tillman allowed one run and four hits in eight innings, with one walk, two strikeouts and a home run. He threw 104 pitches, 65 strikes.
Tillman has allowed one run in his last two starts over 15 innings and five runs in his last four starts over 28 innings. Is that good?
Zach Britton picked up his 10th save tonight. Tommy Hunter has 11.
The Orioles are 42-37 overall and 8-2 against the Rays.