Jorge Lopez went to the mound this afternoon for the Baltimore Orioles in Tampa. The damage was done, but the Birds made a point of getting him out before he went through the order three times. Lopez’s line: 4.2 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 8 K.
The eight strikeouts are a nice touch for sure. However that also shows that like the Oriole pitchers we saw last night, Lopez was living in the middle of the plate. That’ll get you some strikeouts if you’re good. But it’ll also get guys on base. And that’s how Tampa flies.
Lopez gave up a base hit and a walk today start off the game. Wendle came up with two outs and runners at the corners, and the Orioles applied the shift (leaving the left side of the infield open). What does Wendle do? Send an RBI-double to left fielder, and Tampa had a 1-0 lead.
Margot and Keirmaier would add infield RBI-singles, giving Tampa a 3-0 lead after one. Incidentally, Margot’s single was basically a swinging bunt. Kiermaier’s was a broken bat hit in the infield. Tampa never squared anything up in the inning, and netted three runs. Lowe would add a two-RBI double in the last of the fourth, putting Tampa ahead 5-0.
However all wasn’t lost for the Orioles. Not at that point at least. The Birds loaded the bases in the fifth, bringing Austin Wynns to the plate. And Wynns answered the call, smacking his first career grand slam. That put the Orioles right back into the game.
Luckily the Birds shut Tampa down from that point on, despite their inventive ways of getting on base. But as I’ve said previously, Tampa’s hitting doesn’t just wear out your pitching. Their pitching wears down your hitters as well. And they shut the O’s down for the remainder of the game, winning it 5-4.
You really have to cross your T’s and dot your I’s when you play this Tampa Rays team. They just find a way. You put on a shift? No problem, they’ll just hit it where your third baseman used to be. Shattered bat? Again, no problem. They’ll just let out an infield single.
The Orioles of course value the long ball. However Tampa values base runners. And things usually happen when they put runners on base. The defense commits an error, they hit against the shift, etc. They just find a way. So again, you have to cross your T’s and cross your I’s against them. And thus far the Orioles haven’t.
The series concludes tomorrow at Tropicana Field. Bruce Zimmermann gets the start for the O’s, and Tampa is yet to announce a starter. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.