That sure could have gone better for the Orioles. They finished the first half going 5-4 and their starting pitchers went 4-3 with a 2.39 ERA in that span.
Then Dylan Bundy allowed seven runs and eight hits in the first inning last night. The Rays led 9-0 in the second on their way to a 16-4 thumping of the Orioles. It was the 17th time that Baltimore pitchers allowed 10 or more runs. The 16 allowed tied their season high for the third time and they allowed a season-high 20 hits. Tampa Bay hit nine balls 100 mph or faster over the first two innings.
O’s starting pitchers had allowed seven earned runs over the previous four games and 25 innings. Tampa Bay put that many up against Bundy in the first. O’s pitchers allowed eight runs in three games at Toronto before the All-Star break, and then nine in the first two innings Friday night.
Stevie Wilkerson made his first career pitching appearance, retiring the side in order in the ninth inning, and became the fourth position player to pitch this year. He followed Chris Davis, Jesus Sucre and Hanser Alberto. Wilkerson is the 31st different player to pitch for the Orioles this year, breaking the club record of 30 different players in 2018.
The Rays are now 16-1 on the road when tallying 10 or more hits, including an eight-game win streak and victories in 17 of the last 18. The 16 runs they scored last night mark their most since July 14, 2018, when they had 19 runs at Minnesota. Last night’s total is one run shy of tying the Rays’ run record against the Orioles, set on Sept. 5, 2007.
Their seven-run first inning marked the most in a first inning on the road in franchise history, and their first seven-run inning on the road since Sept. 28, 2017 at the New York Yankees. It was the third seven-run first inning in franchise history. They scored nine versus Toronto on Oct. 4, 2015 and 10 versus Oakland on May 25, 2005.
Hey, on a positive note, Renato Núñez doubled, homered and drove in two runs and now has 21 homers and 51 RBIs. It was his fourth multi-extra-base hit game and his team-leading 13th multi-RBI game of this season.
The Orioles are going to need to do a lot better in several aspects of the game today when they host the Rays for a split doubleheader with games at 1:05 and 7:05 p.m.
In Game 1, right-hander Aaron Brooks (2-3, 5.01 ERA) makes his O’s debut. He has not pitched since allowing one run in two innings for Oakland against the Los Angeles Angels on June 30. Over his past seven games, Brooks has pitched to a 2.57 ERA out of the A’s bullpen. When he last made a start at Camden Yards, he got the win April 11 against the Orioles with Oakland, allowing three runs in six innings.
Tampa Bay’s two-way player, lefty Brendan McKay, will start for the Rays. Taken with the No. 4 overall pick out of Louisville in the 2017 draft, he is 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA in two big league starts. He threw six scoreless innings against Texas on one hit June 29 when he made his major league debut. Then he allowed three runs in five innings against the Yankees last weekend.
The nightcap features a marquee pitching matchup of American League All-Stars. Lefty John Means (7-4, 2.50 ERA) faces Rays right-hander Charlie Morton (10-2, 2.32 ERA). Neither pitched in the game on Tuesday in Cleveland.
Means is 2-0 with a 1.85 ERA in his past six starts, allowing a .202 batting average. In that span he has walked seven and fanned 31 in 34 innings. In 10 games at home, Means is 5-1 with a 1.62 ERA and 0.947 WHIP.
Morton is the American League leader in ERA and ranks first in win percentage (.833) and OPS against (.585). He is fourth with 11.34 strikeouts per nine innings, and ninth in innings pitched. Over his past seven starts he is 4-2 with a 1.79 ERA and he’s allowed two earned runs or fewer in 15 of his 19 starts in 2019.
So yeah, pretty good pitching matchup tonight at Oriole Park.