ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The Orioles needed five outs from Mychal Givens tonight to secure a win that would prevent them from being swept to close out their road trip. The latest heavy tax applied to a bullpen that’s in constant motion.
Givens surrendered a game-tying home run to Avisaíl García with one out in the ninth inning and manager Brandon Hyde turned to his fifth reliever of the night, left-hander John Means, who had been bumped from the rotation temporarily.
The Orioles improved to 8-12 overall and 7-6 away from home. The Rays are 14-5 and remain the only team in the division with a winning record.
Davis replaced Renato Núñez at first base in the eighth and he singled up the middle off Diego Castillo with two outs in the 11th, his first at-bat since being scratched Tuesday night with a stomach virus. Davis hustled to third base on Rio Ruiz’s bloop single to left and came home on Rickard’s double.
Rickard reached base five times and tied his career high with four hits. Ruiz was thrown out at the plate to end the inning, but the Orioles had the lead and Means protected it by stranding a runner in the bottom of the 11th. He struck out García to end it.
García’s home run off Givens traveled 447 feet to center field, becoming the sixth in the ballpark’s history to hit and stick in the D ring catwalk.
The Orioles have surrendered 46 home runs to lead the majors and again flirt with history. The 1996 Tigers hold the record for the highest total through April with 50.
Givens got out of a jam in the eighth after replacing Evan Phillips, who was burned by Mike Zunino’s two-run double that reduced the lead to 5-4. Paul Fry and Phillips each walked a batter in the inning.
Pedro Severino hit his first Orioles home run in the fourth inning to break a 2-2 tie. Richie Martin singled in the seventh for his first major league RBI after Rickard’s leadoff triple, Dwight Smith Jr. had a sacrifice fly in the eighth and the Orioles appeared to be safe.
Rickard was batting .149 before tonight, Martin .146 and Severino .200.
Cedric Mullins flied out to strand two runners in the second and went 0-for-5. He’s 5-for-56 this season and 1-for-32 since April 8. Mullins made a lunging grab of a sinking liner off the bat of Willie Adames for the second out of the 11th.
Andrew Cashner recorded strikeouts to end three of his five innings. His final pitch tonight, his season-high 98th, was a 96 mph fastball for a called third strike on Ji-Man Choi that stranded two runners.
Cashner fell behind 1-0 in the first inning on Austin Meadows’ leadoff double and Tommy Pham’s ground ball that deflected off Núñez’s mitt as he tried to make the backhanded stab.
Two batters into his start and Cashner was down, but he fielded a comebacker and recorded back-to-back strikeouts on 94 and 95 mph fastballs to limit the damage.
Cashner used the four-seamer, which he’s throwing 42 percent of the time, its highest usage since 2012, per brooksbaseball.net - to set up a filthy changeup that struck out Daniel Robertson in the second.
Núñez committed a fielding error that allowed Zunino to reach leading off the inning and he couldn’t handle a sharp grounder from Pham in the fifth that was scored a hit. The second professional appearance for Núñez at first base was fraught with danger, but he tied the score in the top of the third with a single off left-hander Jalen Beeks that followed doubles by Trey Mancini and Smith.
Mancini, who reached base four times, went back to the bag to tag up on Smith’s fly ball to right and only made it to third base, but Núñez bailed him out.
Smith’s double was his ninth hit in 22 at-bats versus left-handers after entering the season with only three for his career.
Rickard’s second infield hit in three innings scored Smith with two outs and gave the Orioles a 2-1 lead. Rickard’s career average against the Rays, his former organization, jumped to .311 after his double in the 11th.
Hunter Wood handled the first two innings for the Rays as their opener and didn’t allow a run. Mancini and Rickard reached on infield hits and Severino walked, but nothing across the plate.
Rickard made it to first base on a grounder to Wood because Choi was slow to the bag. Really, really slow.
Pham homered off Cashner in the bottom of the third inning to tie the game. Severino threw out Choi attempting to steal as Yandy Díaz struck out to end the inning and his 426-foot shot to left field in the fourth gave the Orioles a 3-2 lead and completed a nice sequence.
The bullpen had to cover the last four innings of regulation after Cashner’s departure. The trim on the uniforms should be made of sweat beads.
Jimmy Yacabonis issued a leadoff walk in the sixth and retired the next two batters on fly balls to the fence before getting a routine bouncer following a visit from pitching coach Doug Brocail. Fry replaced Yacabonis with one out in the seventh and stranded a runner, striking out Garcia.
Phillips replaced Fry in the eighth after a leadoff walk, issued his own free pass and the Orioles no longer were safe.
They finally were winners after 4 hours, 15 minutes.
Manager Brandon Hyde on satisfaction of battling back: “Those are tough games to win, right? When you’re on the road and you lose the lead late. So you hand it to our guys. For John Means, pitching a scoreless 10th there and giving us a chance. Just really liked the at-bats obviously in the top of the 11th. Just thought we stayed in it and everybody was ... The dugout was great, the guys were supporting each other and never give up attitude and it was fantastic.”
Hyde on Davis always staying ready: “No doubt. What I liked with Chris was that foul ball on the heater, bought him the off-speed pitch that he got the base hit up the middle on by being on time with the fastball with a really good at-bat. He sparked us obviously. C.D. was ready to play. I went to him about the fourth or fifth and talked to him about maybe some late-inning stuff that could possibly happen and he was ready to go. He’s a pro.”
Hyde on Means: “He’s been a factor. No doubt, he’s a factor. I love the way John Means throws in, elevates, got the plus changeup and he spun a couple decent breaking balls, too. I just like the way he pitches. It’s really similar to how they pitch, which is they stand guys up, they elevate in the zone, they’re not afraid to throw their fastball in and they’ve got really good off-speed stuff. And that’s what John did. Pitched two great innings.”
Hyde on jolt supplied by Rickard: “Big-time, yeah. Joe did everything tonight. Had great at-bats, played really good defense, got some hits to fall. He’s been taking some good at-bats and just not getting the results, and tonight he had a few hits and played really good defense. So a really good night for him.”
Hyde on Mullins’ catch in 11th: “That’s a pick-me-up play. Ced’s grinding, there’s no doubt about it. He’s not off to the start he wanted to start the season with. He just continues to play good defense out in center field. He made a huge play to help us win and contribute and happy to see that.”
Rickard on what win says about club: “It just shows how gritty we are. This is a big win for us. A lot of guys stepped up for us.”
Rickard on what ran through mind in 11th: “Just stay aggressive, trying to pick out a pitch. Guy throws hard, a lot of movement, so just put a good swing on it.”
Rickard on success versus Rays: “That’s just coincidence. But it’s always nice to get a big win.”
Means on mentality entering game: “I just honestly tried to get on the mound and put my best pitches in the game. Just try to go all out. I don’t know how long I’m going, so just try to strike everybody out honestly.”
Means on whether he’s enjoying starter/relief role: “Honestly, I’m just happy to be here. I’m just happy to have a role, happy to be in this spot and in this position. I want to have that role of doing whatever they want me to do.”