ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – That seven-game winning streak to start the season seems so long ago now.
Since then, the Orioles have lost eight of 12 games, and now have dropped consecutive series and three straight for the first time this season.
On Tuesday night, the Orioles hit into three double plays in a disheartening 3-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays before 10,988 at Tropicana Field.
“The difference was we couldn't get anything to find a spot to fall in,” manager Buck Showalter said. “I think the key to the game was them defensively. We hit four balls on the button that they defended. That’s a tribute to them. Would have liked to create a couple opportunities we could cash in on. But they did, too.
Ubaldo Jimenez allowed three runs in six innings, but it was hardly good enough.
Kevin Kiermaier hit an 0-2 pitch by Jimenez for a two-run home run in the sixth, and that was enough for the Orioles to lose.
“It’s hard when you give up a home run and lose a game because of one bad pitch. 0-2, I just wanted to go up and in. I didn’t want to throw anything close to the zone, but I left it right in,” Jimenez said.
Enny Romero (1-0) got the win in relief of Jake Odorizzi as the Orioles continued to flail away at bat. They’ve scored just two runs in the last 27 innings.
In the second inning, Mark Trumbo singled with one out and J.J. Hardy followed with a double, but runners stayed on second and third as Pedro Alvarez struck out and Jonathan Schoop flied to center.
Chris Davis led off the fourth by flicking an opposite field double to left. Davis scored on Trumbo’s single to left. While Trumbo took second on the throw home, Hardy walked and Alvarez singled to load the bases.
Schoop popped to short, and Caleb Joseph hit into a double play, ending what could have been a most productive inning for the Orioles (11-8).
“Bases loaded, we need to score some runs there and take a little bit of pressure off Ubaldo. He had some high-stress innings. We’ve got to execute a little better in that situation. More times than not this season we have. Me personally, we’ve got to pick it up. We’ve got to get that run in. Multiple runs,” Joseph said.
Tampa Bay (10-10) wasted plenty of scoring chances, too. Logan Forsythe led off the first with a double, moved to third on Jimenez’s wild pitch. After Brad Miller grounded out to first, Evan Longoria grounded sharply to short. Hardy’s throw to home nailed Forsythe.
In the second, the Rays had second and third with one out, but again were thwarted by Jimenez (1-2).
They scored in the third after they had second and third with none out, but Adam Jones’ running catch on Desmond Jennings’ fly ball limited the damage to a run.
Once the Rays took the lead, Schoop and Jones hit into double plays with none out in the seventh and eighth.
Jimenez’s start was for naught thanks to Kiermaier.
“It just [stinks] for a guy to put in a performance like that and keep grinding and grinding and to one pitch dictate it and usually that’s what happens. He’s a pesky hitter. He’s got just enough pop to scare you a little bit, so I thought Ubaldo did a really nice job getting out of those jams for sure. He gave us some length today. It was unfortunate. He deserved a W today,” Joseph said.
Alex Colome got the final two outs in the ninth for his fifth save.
“It hasn’t been easy for me the last three games. Every inning, I have to work hard to get out of the inning, but I’ve been able to battle. I haven’t given up. I find a way to get back and get the next hitter out,” Jimenez said. “A game like that, I’m going to be able to win it, but right now we haven’t been able to score a lot of runs, but we have a pretty good lineup and one of these days, they’re going to start doing what everybody’s expecting.”
NOTES: The Orioles have been held to one run or fewer in three straight games for just the second time in four seasons. … Since starting the season by hitting in 16 straight games, Manny Machado is 0-for-13. …The Orioles had gone 13 straight games without a quality start before Jimenez’s. … … Alvarez has consecutive games with two hits. … The Orioles have lost consecutive series for the first time since Aug. 31-Sept. 6, 2015. … Chris Tillman (1-1, 4.42) faces Matt Moore (1-1, 3.60) on Wednesday night.