BALTIMORE—After Yovani Gallardo gave up three runs in the first inning, the Orioles quickly answered back with four of their own.
Perhaps this was going to be another night where the Orioles took advantage of an inexperienced pitcher and continued their strong September run.
Instead the four runs represented most of their offense, and they dropped a 7-6 decision to the Tampa Bay Rays before 19,233 at Oriole Park on Thursday night.
While the Orioles lost, the Boston Red Sox scored five runs in the bottom of the ninth to beat the New York Yankees 7-5. The Orioles lost a game, and they’re two games in back of Boston in the AL East.
The Orioles (80-66) were 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position, and just 1-for-13 in the final eight innings.
“It’s a tough loss because we fought back and had a chance there at the end, but we left a lot of opportunities out there today, but to have a chance there in the ninth inning, it’s all you can ask for. Didn’t come through today, we’ll look for tomorrow,” Matt Wieters said.
For the fourth consecutive start, Gallardo (5-8) allowed a home run in the first inning. Gallardo walked Logan Forsythe and Kevin Kiermaier and Evan Longoria hit his 33rd home run for a 3-0 lead.
“Just falling behind guys. That’s the No. 1 thing, can’t start the game walking the first two guys and then making the mistake there to the No. 3 hole hitter. It’s never a good start. Every time you make a mistake to a hitter like that, he’s going to make you pay,” Gallardo said.
With six starters for the moment, manager Buck Showalter can mix and match, and he kept Gallardo out of the series at Fenway Park, and may again bypass him when the Orioles play four games with the Red Sox here again next week.
Gallardo was pitching for the first time in nine days, and for the fourth consecutive start gave up a first-inning home run.
“No, I’m not going to look too much into that,” Wieters said. “The greatest thing about Yovani is even when he gets backed into some tough situations, he can work his way out of it. The home run can kind of make that null and void. He’s good with guys in scoring position in leaving them out there. But one thing is keeping the ball in the ballpark is big for him because he can get out of jams when he needs to.”
Blake Snell quickly coughed up the lead in the bottom of the first. Wieters‘ two-run single and J.J. Hardy’s two-run double gave the Orioles a 4-3 lead.
Forsythe’s RBI single in the top of the second tied the score at 4 and Steven Souza, Jr.’s run-scoring double an inning later gave Tampa Bay (63-83) a 5-4 lead.
Longoria’s two-run single in the fourth stretched Tampa Bay’s lead to 7-4.
“It’s frustrating. It’s frustrating for sure. I’ve been feeling really good. I was feeling really good coming into this start today. It just wasn’t there. The command wasn’t there. For whatever reason it was, it can’t happen,” Gallardo said.
Gallardo was removed after 3 1/3 innings. He gave up six runs on seven hits, walking two. He struck out a season-high seven.
“We knew he’d be a little bit stronger with added rest. You see the strikeouts, but you also see him getting some balls where he didn’t want to get them. He didn’t have a real good feel for anything off-speed. I thought he was going to find his step a couple times, but he never really got into a rhythm, it seemed like,” Showalter said.
Snell made it into the fifth inning when Adam Jones walked to lead off. Jonathan Schoop doubled Jones to third, and when Manny Machado struck out, Snell was removed for Brad Boxberger.
Boxberger (4-1) retired Mark Trumbo on a foul pop to first and Chris Davis grounded out to the pitcher.
In the bottom of the eighth, Dana Eveland walked Davis and gave up a double to Wieters. Danny Farquhar grounded to first to score Davis, and Michael Bourn grounded to second, scoring Wieters, and it was 7-6.
Alex Colome allowed singles to Schoop and Machado with one out in the ninth, but ended the game by striking out Trumbo and Davis to earn his 33rd save.
“You can look at a lot of reasons why we didn’t win that game. It’s a team loss, and we’ll take it as that, but at the same time, we can’t dwell on that because tomorrow we might have the same situations and we have to have the confidence to go out there and hit the ball hard,” Wieters said.