If the Orioles were going to beat the Tampa Bay Rays tonight and improve to 9-1 on the road, they were probably going to have to figure out how to put the ball in play against one of the best strikeout pitchers in the game.
Tall right-hander Tyler Glasnow had an ERA of 6.00 entering this game, but also had fanned 35 batters in 21 innings with a fastball that can touch 98 mph and a curveball that plays rather well off that pitch. Through six innings tonight, he fanned 10 Orioles and got nine on that curveball. To that point in the game, he had gotten 23 swings at the pitch and 10 whiffs.
Then he struck out the side in the seventh, getting one on a curve and two on fastballs at 97 and 98 mph. Are we sure this guy has a 6.00 ERA?
Glasnow led all major league pitchers averaging 15.00 strikeouts per nine (minimum 20 innings) entering the night and rated third in strikeout rate at 36.8.
It was a pretty dominant performance, as he allowed five hits and two runs with a walk and a career-best 13 strikeouts on 96 pitches over seven innings. He is now 1-1 with an ERA of 5.14. In five career games against the Orioles, he is 3-0 with an ERA of 2.12. He has fanned 38 with four walks in 29 2/3 innings.
Pitchers are supposed to struggle the third time through an order. Tonight the O’s went 0-for-9 with eight strikeouts against him the third time through. He got 24 swings and misses tonight. The O’s swung 26 times and whiffed 13 on his curveball and there were 10 whiffs in 25 tries on a fastball that averaged 97 mph.
But the Orioles did just enough against him - and Tommy Milone kept them in the game - that they were down just 3-2 after six innings. However, Tampa Bay pushed across another run in the sixth and the O’s could not score against their bullpen in a 4-2 loss.
The Orioles fall to 14-15 and 8-2 away from Oriole Park in the opener of a seven-game road swing. They lost opening night at Boston, but had won eight in a row on the road since and entered tonight with the best road record in the majors.
This was a night where shortstop Pat Valaika made two throwing errors and each was costly. The first miscue in the second preceded back-to-back homers by Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot. The first was blasted 436 feet by Renfroe on a 112 mph exit velocity. Margot drilled one 417 feet and the Rays had a 3-1 lead.
Baltimore had taken a 1-0 lead in the first when Renato Núñez lined a curveball just over that short wall down the left field line. He hit No. 6 a distance of 332 feet to end a 14-game homerless run. It was one of the few curveballs the O’s put in play tonight. Ryan Mountcastle’s first career RBI came off Glasnow’s curveball in the fourth. He singled in a run in a 1-for-4 night.
Valaika’s second throwing error came in the sixth with Renfroe up and he would later score on a sac fly by pinch-hitter Ji-Man Choi. So Tampa Bay won by two runs and scored two unearned runs.
Anthony Santander went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and his hitting streak ended at 18 games.