BALTIMORE –- Darren O’Day usually doesn’t’ hear the crowd. Friday night, it was different. O’Day had loaded the bases with none out in the ninth inning of a tie game.
Pitching coach Dave Wallace came to the mound, and just like that, O’Day struck out Steven Souza, then Asdrubal Carrera and got Jake Elmore to ground out to third.
Huge cheers, and then a few minutes and a few pitching changes later, J.J. Hardy had the biggest hit of his season, and the Orioles had a 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays before a sellout crowd of 45,505 at Oriole Park.
“I don’t notice it much when I’m pitching, but I noticed it when I had two outs and two strikes how loud they got, and it was pretty impressive. It probably only added to the environment that we created there,” O’Day said.
O’Day (1-0) allowed singles to Evan Longoria and David DeJesus to start the ninth, and then hit Logan Forsythe with a pitch, and then he got out of it, and the Orioles came up in the ninth.
“The second part was more fun than the first. It’s not how we drew it up, but anytime you put a zero on the board is exciting,” O’Day said.
“You’re never really out of it, and I’ve kind of enjoyed being in situations with guys on base. I don’t mind it. Usually, it’s not by my own creation, but I don’t feel like the game is lost if there’s a guy on second or a guy’s on third. That hitter is just as anxious as you to win the game, so there was definitely some luck involved to get out of that.”
Travis Snider started the ninth with an infield single off Brandon Gomes (1-2). Jimmy Paredes struck out. After Adam Jones flied to center, Chris Davis singled to left off Xavier Cedeno, Everth Cabrera, who was running for Snider made it to third.
Against Steve Geltz, Hardy slammed a single to left on a 1-0 count, scoring Cabrera and the Orioles (23-24) had the big win.
“It's always important. I guess no more important than any other time to try and win a ball game, but it's been a grind, and I'm working at it every day, and it's going to come. It's going to come soon,” Hardy said.
Hardy is still batting just .197, and the RBI was just his sixth in 21 games.
Miguel Gonzalez pitched a brilliant eight innings, allowing just one run on Souza’s second-inning home run, and just two more hits. He struck out six without walking a batter, but did hit two.
“It's nice. I mean, we need to score more runs, but for Miguel to come in and do what he did tonight, Darren to get out of that bases-loaded jam was huge. It was just a big win for us,” Hardy said.
Tampa Bay (24-25) took the 1-0 lead into the seventh.
Kevin Jepsen surrendered Davis’ 12th home run, his fourth in the past four games, with one out in the seventh.
Gonzalez has allowed two runs in 21 2/3 innings in three starts against Tampa Bay this season.
“I don’t know, it’s something that we face those guys a lot and we talk about them every time, how to approach them and just be aggressive with every pitch. Especially Longoria and those guys that, if you hang a pitch or give in, they are gonna do some damage. We did a good job today overall and good things happened,” Gonzalez said.
NOTES: Manager Buck Showalter hasn’t made a final decision on Bud Norris, who’s still on the 15-day disabled list with bronchitis. He’ll either make another rehab start or return to the rotation during next week’s Houston series. “He’s real close,” Showalter said. “He wants to pitch bad.”
Showalter said Norris, who is 1-4 with a 9.88 ERA, would not pitch out of the bullpen. “I plan on Bud coming back in our rotation. He won 15 games for us [last year] and will pitch well for us again this year. I’ve got a long memory.
-Catcher Ryan Lavarnway was outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk, but he declined the assignment and elected to become a free agent. Lavarnway, who was designated for assignment, batted .107 in 10 games.
-With the win, Showalter passes Hall of Famer Whitey Herzog for 35th place on the all-time win list with 1,282. It was also Showalter’s 400th win as Orioles manager, seven away from Hank Bauer’s 407. Bauer is currently in third place on the team’s win list.
-Erasmo Ramirez (2-2, 6.62) faces Wei-Yin Chen (1-3, 3.13) on Saturday at 4:05 p.m. … This was the Orioles’ second sellout of the season.
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