Alex Cobb thought he had a strikeout tonight to close the top of the first inning. He took a couple of steps toward the dugout and catcher Pedro Severino stood to join him. But plate umpire Ryan Additon said the split-changeup missed high, an opinion that replays and pitch charts disputed, and Yoshi Tsutsugo lined the next offering into the gap for a run-scoring double.
The Orioles put two runners in scoring position with no outs in the bottom of the first and stranded them.
These are the times that try a team’s soul.
Down early and tied later, the Orioles sprinkled in some clutch hitting to offset the squandered opportunities and managed to piece together a 6-3 win over the Rays in a game that started 58 minutes late because of rain.
Rays left-hander Blake Snell retired nine in a row before Renato Núñez led off the fourth with a double and Anthony Santander hit a game-tying home run, with the ball deflecting off Kevin Kiermaier glove. Severino followed with his second homer in two nights and Snell was out of the game.
Alberto reached on an infield single, stole second base and moved up on a wild pitch. He homered in the eighth, his second in two nights, and is 11-for-25 on the season.
Santander collected his third hit in the seventh inning after Núñez poked a single into right field and Severino reached on an infield hit to load the bases with one out. Rio Ruiz grounded to first baseman Ji-Man Choi, who made a high throw to the plate.
Playing with fire won’t always get you burned.
Tanner Scott stranded two runners in the top of the seventh by striking out Tsutsugo, going more with his breaking ball than the upper-90s fastball that he couldn’t locate.
Mychal Givens survived a leadoff walk in the eighth and won a 10-pitch battle with Manuel Margot, who fouled off five in a row before flying out. Cole Sulser earned the save against his former team, recording two strikeouts in the process, one night after serving up Aaron Judge’s three-run shot.
“Gutsy, gutsy performance,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “Last night was a tough loss. We talked about it a little bit today here in my office. I told him that if he got the opportunity again I was going to try to throw him out there to try to bounce back from that. He’s a high-character guy. I don’t know him very well, but what I do know in my short time with him is he’s a tough kid. He showed a lot of toughness tonight.”
Cobb didn’t walk a batter in his debut start in Boston, but he issued back-to-back free passes to load the bases with two outs in the second. Lowe grounded into a force, but Cobb’s pitch total had soared to 49.
Willy Adames, who scored the game’s first run, worked Cobb for a 10-pitch walk leading off the third. The bullpen figured to be busy again after John Means lasted only 2 1/3 innings the previous night.
Hunter Renfroe produced the Rays’ fourth two-out double of the game and they led 2-0. Cobb had thrown 74 pitches.
He needed only 13 to retire the side in order in the fourth and was done.
Unable to claim his first win in five starts against his former team, Cobb allowed two runs and four hits with three walks and two strikeouts in four innings. He’s winless in 14 starts at Camden Yards since joining the Orioles.
Wade LeBlanc will try to give the Orioles their first quality start on Saturday. No one has been able to complete six innings, though LeBlanc got within an out at Fenway Park.
Davis pinch-hit for Pat Valaika in the fourth and struck out. He wore a mask at the plate and in the field.
Note: The Orioles have traded left-hander Richard Bleier to the Marlins for a player to be named later. The 40-man roster is down to 38 and the player pool to 54.
Hyde said that Bleier was unavailable tonight. Now we know.
Bleier tossed three scoreless innings with one hit allowed, no walks and four strikeouts. He had a 3.15 ERA and 1.225 WHIP in 143 games.
In a clubhouse light in veteran leaders, Bleier grew into the role with the Orioles.
“Definitely surprised. Caught me off guard there,” he said. “During the game I was just kind of mapping out a situation where I might get in, and then I didn’t get in and I was wondering what happened. And Mike (Elias) called me in after and he was like, ‘You want to know why you didn’t pitch? We traded you.’ So I was like, ‘OK that kind of makes sense.’ But definitely surprised and extremely thankful for Baltimore, the organization and everything they’ve done for the last few years for me.
“They gave me an extended opportunity in the big leagues and then really gave me another opportuntiy coming off a down year to get back to the status i was at before, so it’s been a really enjoyable ride here in Baltimore and I’m very thankful for that.”
Bleier lives in West Palm Beach, Fla., and is able to go home. Asked if he requested a trade, Bleier laughed and replied, “No, I had no idea. I didn’t ask for a trade. I feel like, LeBron James asks for trades. Not me.”
“I’m glad that I have value to another team,” he said, “but at the same time this was such a comfort for me here in Baltimore and I’m going to miss it. I know all the guys, I know all the staff, I’ve been around everybody for years. Before I came to Baltimore I was bouncing around organization to organization, and being the new guy isn’t nearly as fun as being the guy who’s been around for a long time, so it’s definitely something I will miss.”
Bleier isn’t apprehensive about going to Miami, where more than half of the roster has tested positive for COVID-19 and the team currently is shut down.
“No, not right now,” he said. “Hopefully, everything is under control and I’m not going into a situation that’s unsafe. But it’s definitely something that I’m aware of. No, I’m not overly concerned. They’re not going to bring me somewhere there’s going to be a problem.”
Bleier could be right back in Baltimore if the Marlins are filling the open dates Monday and Tuesday.