Two-out hits lead comeback
ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. — The importance of each game in the Orioles’ pivotal nine-game road trip will intensify by the day, but the team can’t look ahead to dates with fellow playoff contenders Detroit and Boston until they take care of business on a three-game trip to last-place Tampa Bay.
And in Monday’s series opener against the Rays — who, by taking two of three from the American League East-leading Toronto Blue Jays, showed their ability to muddle a playoff picture they’re not in — the Orioles staved off disappointment with a comeback victory.
For the second straight day, the Orioles fell behind by three runs in the first inning, but this time they rallied from behind with a bevy of clutch two-out singles for a 7-3 win over the Rays in front of an announced 12,256.
With the win, the Orioles (75-62) moved within two games of Toronto for first place.
Right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez threw the first complete game by an Orioles pitcher in more than two seasons — Miguel Gonzalez pitched the last one on Sept. 4, 2014, against Cincinnati — and his first nine-inning complete game since June 1, 2011, when he was pitching for the Colorado Rockies against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Orioles’ offensive strength has been their ability to launch balls into the seats, but on Monday it was their situational hitting that was the key to victory.
Jimenez was one strike away from escaping the first inning unscathed, but he fell behind early by allowing a three-run homer to Tampa Bay first baseman Logan Morrison with two outs and a full count.
The Orioles would score seven unanswered runs off Rays starter Matt Andriese, including five in a fifth inning in which they batted around.
They were 4-for-6 with runners in scoring position in the Adam Jones slides home ahead of the throw to Rays catcher Luke Maile on a single by Chris Davis in the fifth inning. fifth, getting three two-out, runscoring singles.
Andriese almost escaped the inning. After Hyun Soo Kim opened the fifth with a double and went to third on Adam Jones’ single, Andriese struck out Pedro Alvarez looking and Manny Machado swinging.
But first baseman Chris Davis looped a two-run single into center field to give the Orioles a 4-3 lead.
Mark Trumbo singled home Davis and, after a single by Matt Wieters, both scored on Jonathan Schoop’s single.
“Our guys stormed back there and really got after it,” manager Buck Showalter said. “A lot of good base-running plays, a lot of good fundamentals. I thought Chris’ [hit] was a big momentum swing. They were going to wiggle out of it, and Chris not only did that, but took second on the throw and ended up scoring a run. Matt and Trum moved up on a short wild pitch. Those things are big.” Davis launches rally: Davis’ winning hit came after falling behind 0-2 to Andriese — looking fooled on a pair of changeups — but Davis worked the count until he lined a high fastball back up the middle for a base hit.
“I’ve been trying to do that the whole year,” Davis said. “I feel like these guys have been picking me up and eventually I was hoping that I could rise up to the challenge. So I was happy with the way things turned out today, but just really proud of the way we battled as a team.”
Davis also started the Orioles’ scoring with his 34th home run of the season, hitting a 2-0 pitch from Andriese the opposite way to left field in the fourth inning to cut the Tampa Bay lead to 3-1. Extra bases matter: The Orioles’ aggressiveness on the base paths paid off in the fifth inning, beginning with Davis’ two-run hit.
On his single, Davis took second base on the throw home, which allowed him to come home on Trumbo’s single.
Then, with Trumbo at second and Wieters at first, both base runners moved up on a wild pitch by Andriese, allowing both to score when Schoop singled, giving the Orioles a 7-3 lead.
Starters: Yovani Gallardo (4-7, 5.62) vs. Rays’ Jake Odorizzi (9-5, 3.56)