BALTIMORE — There was plenty the Rays did wrong along the way to Sunday’s latest crushing loss, a litany of misplays, mistakes and missed opportunities that ended with a 7-6, 11-inning rain-interrupted defeat, the second time they were walked off by the Orioles in three days.
Manager Kevin Cash, who was ejected halfway through, noted some of the good they did in grabbing a 4-0 lead in the first inning, some of the “uncharacteristic” defensive mistakes, including three errors, that cost them and summed it up simply:
“We’ve just go to play better.”
The Orioles won it in the 11th inning, the decisive run scoring on a 35.4-mph roller to first that Ji-Man Choi couldn’t make a play on.
But the ninth inning was the most troubling part of the loss, given the fairly good position the Rays were in to win.
Leading by two, they asked Ryan Thompson to get the final three outs. As in Friday’s loss, he got one strike away. And as on Friday, he failed them again, this time allowing a two-run single to Austin Hays.
“I’m just on a bad stretch of games and I’ve got to be better,” Thompson said. “My pitches aren’t good, my locations aren’t good. I just flat-out kind of suck right now. So that’s all I can say about that.
“I’m going out there doing everything I can, competing my heart out and I’m just giving up key runs. That just can’t happen.”
Thompson got off to a bad start when a bloop single fell in just in front of hard-charging centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier. A one-out walk put the tying runs on.
Then came a costly freak mistake. Thompson said he caught a finger of his pitching hand on his back pants pocket while starting his delivery, which caused him to drop the ball, the balk call moving the runners to third and second.
After a popup for the second out, with dark clouds that would soon unleash heavy showers moving over Camden Yards, Hays laced a pinch-hit single to leftfield to score both runs and tie it 6-6.
Umpires immediately stopped play, leading to a 51-minute delay, and shortly after play resumed — and about 5 ½ hours since first pitch — the Orioles won it.
“Extra-inning games, these are big momentum swing games, and they’re ones that we all want to win,” Thompson said. “I had a blown save in both those games. I had a key part in both those losses. So a lot of that is on me. I’ve got to be better.”
The Rays (24-17) had gotten off to a good start, with three straight hits — the last of which forced Orioles starter Spenser Watkins from the game with a bruised arm — and a three-run homer from Isaac Paredes giving them a 4-0 lead.
That seemed to be enough to survive the rough start from Corey Kluber, who lasted only three innings (throwing 73 pitches), and led to them eventually using eight relievers.
But the Rays didn’t do much else offensively, including failing to score in either extra inning with multiple runners on, going 5-for-23 overall with runners in scoring position.
“That’s a tough one to see the lead go in the ninth and lose another one in extras,” said catcher Mike Zunino, who made another of their mistakes, failing to tag up to third in the 11th on a fly to right.
The Orioles kept battling, taking advantage of the Rays’ miscues.
Leftfielder Randy Arozarena, for example, made a spectacular diving catch to save two runs and preserve the lead in the third, but botched a somewhat routine fly in the seventh that cost them a run.
The end came without much drama. The O’s bunted Adley Rutschman, the designated runner to third, and Odor hit a slow roller off just called-up reliever Dusten Knight toward first. Choi charged, trying to make a do-or-die scoop with his glove to flip the ball home, but he couldn’t pick it up.
“If I didn’t do that I thought that we weren’t going to get the out,” he said via team interpreter Daniel Park. “So that’s all I had to do, really the only option.”
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