Zimmermann has eventful debut in O’s 10-6 loss (updated)

The firsts began to pile up for Orioles pitcher Bruce Zimmermann in the first inning.

His first pitch in the majors, a 92 mph fastball that brought weak contact from Rays leadoff hitter Randy Arozarena on a fly ball to right field.

His first hit batter, a slider nailing Hunter Renfroe on the left knee and bringing the Rays’ athletic trainer on the field.

His first walk, with Brandon Lowe headed to first base on five pitches.

His first home run allowed, with Willy Adames lining a changeup into the left field seats after striking out four times in the opener.

His first strikeout, with a 94 mph fastball catching the outer half of the plate and freezing Nate Lowe.

Denied the humongous turnout of family and friends at the ballpark, Zimmermann still relished his opportunity to become the 12th Maryland native to start for the Orioles. He just wanted a smoother introduction, and not the one over the public address system.

Zimmermann-Delivers-Debut-Orange-Sidebar.jpgThe Baltimore native and Ellicott City resident had his parents and grandmother watching at home, and they were interviewed on MASN via a Zoom call in the bottom of the second. Zimmermann held a captive audience through three-plus innings, departing after Nate Lowe’s leadoff single in the fourth in the Orioles’ unsightly 10-6 loss to the Rays in Game 2 at Camden Yards.

Hanser Alberto hit a solo home run off Trevor Richards in the second, Ryan Mountcastle had an RBI double in the third, Rio Ruiz launched a game-tying two-run homer in the fourth and DJ Stewart provided a lead later in the inning with a two-run double. There wouldn’t be a first loss for Zimmermann.

Travis Lakins Sr. replaced Zimmermann in the fourth after Lowe’s single and surrendered a game-tying two-run homer to Joey Wendle. Lowe delivered a run-scoring single off Cole Sulser in the fifth, the Rays crossed the plate three more times in the inning and the Orioles fell to 22-30 with the sweep, their lowest point below .500 this season.

Zimmermann was charged with five runs and four hits with one walk, two strikeouts, two home runs and two hit batters. He threw 53 pitches, 32 for strikes.

Only two of those pitches produced a swing-and-miss, both from Brandon Lowe during his at-bat in the third inning.

The Orioles were designated as the road team for the makeup game from Aug. 27 in St. Petersburg, Fla, when they refused to take the field to protest police brutality.

Another first for Zimmermann, pitching the bottom halves of innings in his home venue, but it’s become common for the Orioles.

Austin Hays raced to the warning track in left field and made a terrific catch to rob Manuel Margot, prompting Zimmermann to raise his cap. Wendle singled with two outs and Arozarena grounded into a force - though Alberto apparently lost track of the outs and fired to first base for the phantom double play.

Renfroe jumped on the first pitch of the third inning and drove it deep into the left field seats for a 4-2 lead. Zimmermann recorded a strikeout, another hit batter and a double play and was in the dugout at 49 pitches.

Manager Brandon Hyde came to the mound after Lowe’s single, Lakins couldn’t hold the lead or get out of the inning and Sulser stranded two runners.

Sulser walked Mike Brosseau to begin the decisive fifth. Brosseau stole second base and moved to third on Ruiz’s throwing error while Adames reached on an infield hit, and Nate Lowe singled to give Tampa Bay a 7-6 lead.

Dillon Tate replaced Sulser and the Rays greeted him with two straight infield hits. Tate and Ruiz became tangled as the reliever fielded Margot’s bunt and threw wide of first base. Tate fielded Kevan Smith’s roller, tried to get the out at the plate and chucked the ball into the runner and past catcher Chance Sisco to give Tampa Bay an 8-6 lead with no outs.

Sacrifice flies to the left field track by Wendle and Arozarena put the Rays ahead 10-6 and brought 29th man Evan Phillips into the game. Phillips struck out the side in the sixth, his likely reward a return to the alternate camp site.

Cedric Mullins began the first inning with his ninth bunt single of the year and the 15th for the Orioles, both leading the majors. Mountcastle drew his ninth walk, but Pedro Severino grounded into a real double play.

The Orioles cut the lead to one run in the third on Stewart’s walk, while the Rays were using four outfielders, and Mountcastle’s double on a ball that scooted under Renfroe’s glove.

Sisco led off the fourth with a single and Ruiz forced Trevor Richards’ exit with his ninth home run of the season. Pat Valaika reached on an infield hit, Mullins singled and Stewart lined a Ryan Thompson slider into the right field corner for a 6-4 lead.

Given a chance to break the tie in the fifth, the Orioles left two runners on base against Pete Fairbanks. Sisco and Ruiz collected their second hits.

The Rays were busy gathering runs in the bottom half.

Update: Evan was returned to the alternate site.

Manager Brandon Hyde on Zimmermann’s start: “I just thought he left a couple pitches up. A changeup up to Adames for the homer and then the center-cut fastball there to Renfroe, which was really the damage he gave up. I just thought he had a tough time getting the ball down in the zone. I thought he showed good stuff, good life to his fastball. Just made a couple pitches that were up in the zone and paid for it.”

Zimmermann on his day and being in majors: “It’s hard to put into words. Obviously, I’ve been working for it my entire career so far. Tried to get some sleep last night and was able to get some hours there. Woke up, took it easy, knew I was going to show up a little later than the rest of the guys since it was a doubleheader. Just tried to take it all in. I’ve been to this stadium numerous times with family and friends to watch the Orioles, but it was a little different feeling driving up to the stadium today and kind of taking it all in and realizing this was the culmination of a lot of hard work and just trying to make the most of it.”

Zimmermann on how he felt: “Honestly, I felt really good. I thought I would have a little more nerves, but I think the worst of my nerves was like an hour before the first game I went out to the dugout by myself and it kind of just hit me a little bit. But once I got out in the bullpen and started working and getting that done, it really wasn’t that bad. The first inning, kind of hit me a little bit again, but thankfully they swung first pitch and I got that out right way, so that kind of eliminated those nerves. Stuff-wise I felt very good, I felt like I was able to throw most of my pitches. ... Overall, I thought it went well. I got hurt on a couple pitches, but I didn’t do myself any favors with the walk and hit by pitch in the first inning. It’s the same game, but it’s faster here and you can’t make those kinds of mistakes.”

Ruiz on Zimmermann: “Obviously, the score dictated otherwise, but he was spotting up, man. He was hitting his spots and wasn’t getting any luck from behind the plate. But he attacked the zone and they just happened to barrel some balls.”

Ruiz on fifth inning: “It started off with not making that play for Sully there. That play’s got to be made. It’s something I’m going to have to wear. Just got to play better defense.”

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