ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Playing a team on the road with the best record in baseball was going to challenge the Orioles. No way around it. And so would a pitcher with blistering heat and a microscopic ERA.
They’d like to preserve the first three innings, placing them under glass instead of the dome.
They’d like to get back the fourth, when the home run ball shattered them again.
Avisaíl García delivered a two-run shot off Dylan Bundy to give the Rays a lead they were able to maintain, with their pitchers retiring the last 16 batters in a 4-2 victory at Tropicana Field.
Bundy didn’t allow a hit until Ji-Man Choi doubled in the fourth to put two runners in scoring position with no outs. Yandy Díaz’s sacrifice fly reduced the Orioles’ lead to 2-1, Brandon Lowe struck out on a nice changeup from Bundy and García drove a slider over the center field fence to spin the direction of the game.
The Orioles (7-11) have surrendered a home run in 17 of the first 18 games. Bundy has given up seven over his last three starts.
Bundy struck out three batters in the fifth and was done at 88 pitches. He’s allowed three runs in three of his four outings.
García also had an RBI single off Miguel Castro, who retired the first two batters in the eighth before running into trouble. Single, walk, single, insurance run.
Unfortunately for the Orioles, Tyler Glasnow got on a roll after allowing a season-high seven hits through the fourth inning. He surrendered a combined five in his last two starts over 12 innings and brought a 0.53 ERA into the game, the only run coming in the first inning of his debut.
Glasnow retired the last 10 batters he faced and threw only five pitches in the fourth and nine in the sixth. He broke a couple of bats along the way.
The Orioles worked Glasnow for 26 in the first, including the eight seen by leadoff hitter Jonathan Villar before grounding out, but he made it through the seventh.
Rickard began the night as a career .309/.330/.564 hitter versus the Rays and he slashed .421/.463/.895 last summer with four of his eight home runs and 17 of his 23 RBIs.
The magic wore off for one night. Rickard went 0-for-4, stranded three runners over the first three innings and made the final out.
The Orioles have outscored opponents 16-5 in the opening frame. The Rays have outscored theirs 18-2.
Glasnow hadn’t allowed a run in 16 consecutive innings. His fastball was topping out a 99 mph and he kept mixing an 84 mph curveball.
Smith reached on an infield single in the third - the out call was overturned - stole second base and scored on Renato Núñez’s double down the left field line for a 2-0 lead. Smith has six multi-hit games to double his career total heading into the season.
The Rays began the night leading the majors with a 12-4 record and plus-38 run differential.
They’d improve on both.
It started to happen after the third.
Manager Brandon Hyde on what Glasnow did after the third: “I think we worked some good ABs off him early and we just didn’t score enough and he fell into a rhythm. He’s got a plus-plus fastball and a plus curveball and he’s 6-8 and he’s just really tough to hit. Those type of upper-echelon arms, you try to get to them early. We got a couple runs off him, we were hoping we’d get a couple more, but it didn’t happen. I was happy with our at-bats early in the game.”
Hyde on Bundy: “Dylan threw the ball well. He just made a mistake to García that cost him a couple runs with the homer. But I thought he competed really well. He had multiple pitches going for strikes. I thought his off-speed stuff was really good again, I thought his fastball actually got better in the fourth. He gave us a chance. I’m sure he’d like to have that slider back to Garcia.”
Hyde on whether he’s noticed any difference in Bundy the second time through order: “He did well the second time through the order today. I think he’s having kind of a bad luck pitch right now that’s cost him a little bit. But I thought he threw the ball really, really well. He really made two bad pitches that were two balls that were hit hard. But he gave us five good innings. We just didn’t score enough.”
Hyde on whether he takes positives out of Bundy striking out three in fifth: “Yeah, absolutely. I actually thought his fastball got a little better as the game went on. I just like his changeup right now and I like his breaking ball. I thought he was able to throw off-speed stuff behind in the count, was able to get back in the count and he’s just becoming unpredictable.”
Hyde on how Bundy can eliminate the one bad pitch: “I don’t know what the answer is there. He’s grinding, you know? He’s grinding. I like the way he’s throwing the ball. He gave us a chance to win tonight.”
Hyde on Davis: “Some kind of stomach bug. He’s not feeling good. That’s all I know. He’s not feeling well. He couldn’t go. In BP, he started feeling sick and nauseous and so he was scratched.”
Bundy on his start: “I wouldn’t say ‘really good,’ but yeah, just one bad pitch. Two bases open there with one out. I was trying to throw a slider a little bit off to get a weak contact or a chase. It was just a bad pitch overall and two runs on the board, plus they got the sac fly run, so just a bad inning. Right there, I’ve got to hold the fort down a little bit better with a two-run lead.”
Bundy on whether encouraged by finishing with three strikeouts: “Yeah, I guess you could say that, but any time you hand the game over down one run, it’s usually not a good thing. But try to look at the positives and build from here.”
Bundy on how to eliminate the one bad pitch: “Don’t throw them. Slider, just up in the zone, and he was able to make solid contact dead center to it.”
Bundy on using more off-speed stuff: “I tried to slow them down a little bit and then use the heater a little bit later in the game. They’re a quick-striking offense and I was able to slow them down the first three innings, and then that fourth inning kind of snowballed a little bit.”
Ruiz on whether felt good about chances against Glasnow after three innings: “We all put pretty good at-bats against him, he just came up on the winning end.”
Ruiz on what makes Glasnow so good: “His ball cuts, his ball jumps on you in different ways. It’s kind of hard to sit on a location. His stuff is good. You just have to be ready for his heater.”
Ruiz on Bundy: “He pitched well. García is just a strong hitter. I thought that was a good pitch. Other than that, he pitched well.”