Following a solid series win against the Atlanta Braves, the Orioles were slated to finish the 2020 home season with five games against the deadly and poetic Tampa Bay Rays.
Over five games, the Rays showed why they are the atop the AL. Through out the series, the Orioles pitching was great, however the offense could not follow. In the one game the offense woke up, the pitching went M.I.A.
Game one on Thursday was the top half of a doubleheader, which actually finishes a series back from August that went unfinished. Dean Kremer had the start in this very late series finale, one in which he wasn’t even on the team when it was first played.
Kremer did his part, as he has done consistently since his call up, tossing five innings with just one hit allowed. Although Paul Fry pitched well for an inning, Cesar Valdez would give up two runs and the eventual loss in the seventh.
The Orioles scored one run in the sixth by none other than Ryan Mountcastle. This one RBI, however, would not be enough, as the O’s dropped game one 3-1.
The second game on Thursday would play out much different than the first yet have the same outcome.
Maryland native Bruce Zimmermann got his first start in his home ballpark, having grown up in Ellicott City, MD. The kid’s first start could have been better, as he lasted four innings, where five runs were scored against him. With only four hits allowed, the killer were walks that were followed by home runs.
The Orioles offense would come alive in the 2nd and 3rd innings with a home run from Hanser Alberto and an RBI from Mountcastle that cut the deficit to 3-2.
In the fourth, Rio Ruiz showed his power, bringing in two runs off a long ball to tie the game at four a piece. The O’s then took the lead following a DJ Stewart double that put the Birds up 6-4.
Cole Sulser and Dillon Tate would allow four runs collectively out of the bullpen, as the Orioles dropped game two 10-6.
The Orioles pitching staff would be back to lights out mode Friday, but so were the Rays. Alex Cobb pitched a great game against his former team, fanning five batters on his way to just two runs earned in six innings.
The only Rays runs came early on two singles in the first and third innings. Ironically, both RBI came from players with the last name Lowe. One from UMD alumni Brandon Lowe and the other from Nate Lowe.
Austin Hays would find the barrel against Tyler Glasnow, as he sent a line drive into the seats in the fourth to cut the Orioles deficit to 2-1.
Unfortunately, the Orioles offense would find no more luck, despite Orioles pitchers shutting the Rays out from the fourth inning on. The Birds lost this pitchers duel 2-1.
Saturday’s game played out like most in this series, a low scoring affair with fantastic pitching across the board.
Jorge López was on the mound for the Orioles, and he did everything he needed to help the offense win.
With only three runs allowed over six innings, López has put the offense in a position to win but couldn’t muster up the runs.
Evan Phillips and Travis Lakins Sr. were lights out coming out of the bullpen, throwing three innings between the two with just one hit allowed.
The only run the O’s crossed the plate with was when Chance Sisco got hit by a pitch with bases loaded. This put the Orioles up in the first inning, but they were unable to score again. The Orioles dropped game four 3-1.
Game five of this series closed out the Orioles home season in Camden Yards. With John Means on the mound, the O’s had a good chance to take this last game.
With a very shaky start to the season, Means has come roaring back in his last few starts. With his increased velocity and new found control, Means ended this season how he pitched in 2019.
Means was absolutely fantastic in this outing, making the Rays hitters look silly. He struck out 12 total batters, a new career high, seven of which came in order from the first inning through the third. Means let up just three hits in the game, one being a solo home run in the fourth. That long ball would be the only run scored by the Rays.
The Orioles went up early and for good in the first inning from a Renato Núñez single that scored two runs. One of only five hits, this two-run single was just enough offense for this win.
Dillon Tate, Hunter Harvey, and Cesar Valdez would each throw an inning, sealing the Orioles 2-1 victory in their final home game.
The Birds take to the road to finish off this 2020 campaign. A three-game series in Boston starts Tuesday, followed by the final series of the season that will be spent in Buffalo over this next weekend.
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