BALTIMORE –- Each time the Orioles near the .500 mark, something happens. After winning two straight to get back to a game under the breakeven mark, the Orioles got just three hits and went quickly and quietly.
The Tampa Bay Rays shut out the Orioles 3-0 before 38,177 at Oriole Park on Saturday. It was the fourth time the Orioles have been shut out this season, and three of those times were by Tampa Bay.
For the first time this season, the Orioles (23-25) played without Adam Jones, who was out with a mildly sprained left ankle. David Lough played center in his place.
After the game, manager Buck Showalter said that Jones had an X-Ray and MRI on the ankle, and that it was structurally sound. He’ll be reevaluated on Sunday.
Wei-Yin Chen pitched seven innings, and allowed three early runs, but his teammates did almost nothing offensively.
“Wei-Yin pitched well. We didn’t do much,” Showalter said..
Brandon Guyer led off the game with a double off Chen. Joey Butler grounded to short, but J.J. Hardy’s throw to Manny Machado at third was not in time. Guyer scored on Evan Longoria’s fly ball to center.
Steven Souza, who homered off Miguel Gonzalez in the second inning on Friday, hit one off Chen in the second, and Tampa Bay (24-26) made it 3-0 in third on Butler’s third home run of the year.
“Unfortunately today, I allowed a couple of runs very quick, so I think that kind of put some pressure on my teammates. I only want to try and prevent the opponent from scoring runs, but sadly, I can’t do that well today,” Chen said through his translator.
Erasmo Ramirez (3-2) allowed two hits to Steve Clevenger, in the second and in the fifth. Clevenger was out at the plate trying to score on Ryan Flaherty’s two-single to end the fifth.
“It was a hard hit ball to left field. I got a good jump. It was just right at ‘em. Unfortunately, it was right at ‘em. It was really close at the plate. It could have been overturned, but he just got me, and that’s the way it goes,” Clevenger said.
Showalter wasn’t critical of third base coach Bobby Dickerson’s decision to send Clevenger.
“Runs were at a premium. Sometimes in a game you have to take some chances that may not work out,” Showalter said.
Clevenger has four hits in seven at-bats in his two games since being recalled from Norfolk.
“I’m not too worried about my offense here. I really want to catch well and make the pitching staff want to throw to me. I’m not focused too much on my offense. We lost the game today, and I’m not satisfied with that,” Clevenger said.
Ramirez pitched seven shutout innings, giving up just three hits.
Brandon Gomes pitched a spotless eighth and Brad Boxberger worked the ninth for his 14th save.
For the second straight game, an Orioles reliever loaded the bases with none out. Darren O’Day escaped from that jam on Friday night, and after he walked Rene Rivera and allowed two infield singles, Chaz Roe struck out Longoria and got Logan Forsythe on a line drive to Ryan Flaherty at second. Flaherty stepped on second for the unassisted double play.
Chen (1-4) allowed three runs on six hits in seven innings.
In the last three weeks, the Orioles have had not winning nor losing streak longer than two games.
“You try to be consistent and there are a lot of things you strive to be consistent in a lot of areas besides the physical part of it. You just kind of hope the season settles down and we get some consistency. There's a lot of excuses there, none of which I want to hear. It's challenging playing really good teams, the best in the world, and you've got to do a lot of things well over a really long period of time to do what we need to do and what we've done in the past. Our guys know that,” Showalter said.
NOTES: Bud Norris will pitch on Tuesday for Norfolk in his third rehab start. “Hopefully that will be his last start. It's the last step. Get his legs under him. We're not looking for him to pitch nine shutout innings. Just looking for him to continue down the path. He's very close. We'll see what the next few days bring. Without any off days, it's hard to plan too deep,” Showalter said.
-The Orioles haven’t been at .500 since May 5. … Ryan Lavarnway, who refused an outright assignment to Norfolk, has signed a minor league deal with Atlanta. … Jake Odorizzi (3-5, 2.31) faces Chris Tillman (2-6, 5.59) on Sunday. … The game was played in just two hours, nine minutes.
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