Baltimore Orioles: Illness and oddities strike again

The Baltimore Orioles had to put today’s starter, Keegan Akin, and Anthony Santander on the IL (COVID protocol) before this afternoon’s series finale in Tampa. More on that in a moment. The O’s were attempting to win today’s game, which would give them a series victory vs. Tampa – a rarity. But that made things look a bit more bleak in terms of winning today’s game, and the series. The Birds replaced Santander and Akin on the roster with Ryan McKenna and Alexander Wells – who ended up being today’s starter, making his big league debut. Wells’ line: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 7 K.

It’s unclear what prompted Santander and Akin to need to go into COVID protocol, but the Birds were alerted late last night that there was a problem. However Wells performed admirably in Akin’s stead. He was on the taxi squad for this road trip, so he was already in Tampa. But with little preparation, he was thrust into the bright lights this afternoon. And he got the job done – BIG TIME. In doing so, he left the game with a chance to be the winning pitcher.

The O’s got on the board right away with back-to-back doubles. Austin Hays‘ RBI-double gave them a 1-0 lead. But Tampa came right back – as they’re prone to do. Arozarena’s solo homer tied the game at one. Arozarena’s quickly becoming an Oriole-killer. And he seems to buy into the strange antics that wins games for Tampa over the O’s.

Tampa would get the lead in the last of the second on Wendle’s RBI-triple, but the O’s came right back. Pat Valaika‘s solo homer tied the game back up at two in the third. And one inning later they had the lead back, again on a solo homer. This time by Ryan Mountcastle. To their credit, the Birds never gave up in this one, regardless of the outcome.

And sure enough, neither did Tampa. Arozarena’s second homer of the day tied the game at three in the last of the fifth. One inning later however, Mountcastle’s RBI-single gave the Birds the lead back at 4-3. And the Oriole bullpen seemed to hold that lead – that is until the bitter end.

Tanner Scott was summoned to pitch the ninth. The Birds recorded one out, and allowed two runners on base with a base hit and a walk. That brought Arozarena back to the plate. And this is where the strange plays and oddities that Tampa loves to spring on the Orioles came into play. Everyone in the world’s expecting Arozarena to smack a walk-off three-run homer, and be hailed as a hero. Everyone including the Oriole outfield…

…instead, Arozarena bloops a soft pop up into right field. Austin Hays sprints in, and Ryan Mountcastle sprints out (from first base) to try to make the play. The two collided, and the ball dropped in. Now luckily nobody scored on the play. However the bases were loaded, and Meadow’s subsequent two-RBI single won it for Tampa in walk-off fashion by the score of 5-4.

Regarding the players in COVID protocol, it’s a waiting game at this point. The Orioles have only said that they’re (Santander and Akin) in COVID protocol on the IL; not whether they’re showing symptoms or even if they’ve tested positive. One way or the other, hopefully if they are sick they make a full recovery. If they aren’t sick, hopefully it remains as such.

Alexander Wells deserved the win today, but obviously Tampa’s sneaky trickery prevented that. But you can’t say enough about his outing today, especially given that it was his big league debut. The O’s will have an off day tomorrow at home before welcoming the Washington Nationals to town on Friday night for three games over the weekend.

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