Maybe Saturday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays can bring more late-game magic for the host Baltimore Orioles.
The Orioles’ fortunes have suddenly turned for the better with a pair of last-inning victories. The second of those came with Friday night’s two-run home run from Rougned Odor in the 13th inning for an 8-6 victory against the Rays to begin a three-game series.
On Saturday night, the Orioles might feel as if a hex has been lifted.
“Trust yourself,” Odor said. “We never give up. That’s how we play this game.”
On Friday, the Orioles played their longest game in terms of innings since September 2019, which was before the use of extra-inning ghost runners.
A night earlier, Anthony Santander hit a tie-breaking, three-run home run in the ninth to beat the New York Yankees 9-6. The last time Baltimore won back-to-back games on walk-off home runs came in August 2015.
“It felt like there was something different every inning,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “When there’s extra innings, you never really know what to expect.”
The Orioles have to hope this begins a new trend against Tampa Bay. Friday night’s outcome snapped a 15-game losing streak to the Rays. It also was only Baltimore’s third victory against Tampa Bay in the last 30 meetings dating to 2020.
Still, Baltimore rallied from deficits three times Friday night, certainly gaining the attention of the Rays.
“They’re not far off from competing,” Tampa Bay center fielder Kevin Kiermaier said. “Their time is coming.”
The streak didn’t matter much to Rays manager Kevin Cash.
“Any loss is frustrating,” he said.
The Rays were off Thursday and will have another day off on Monday, so their bullpen should be in decent shape throughout this series despite the team using nine pitchers Friday night. However, Cash said he avoided using Andrew Kittredge on Friday because of a sore back.
There also was concern regarding shortstop Wander Franco, who was thrown out the plate in the top of the 13th. After that game, he reported to have quad tightness.
Left-hander Jeffrey Springs (1-1, 1.66 ERA) is slated for his fourth start, but the goal will be for him to get the Rays to the middle of Saturday’s game. He has yet to complete five innings in a game this season, though he has been used mostly out of the bullpen.
Springs was the winning pitcher with one-third of an inning April 10 against Baltimore.
The Rays gave up only three runs through nine innings Friday. They’ve allowed more than that only once in an eight-game span.
Baltimore scored a total of four runs in the first three-game series against Tampa Bay this year.
The Orioles will go with right-hander Kyle Bradish (1-2, 5.06) on Saturday. This will be just his fifth start in the major leagues, though it will be his third American League East opponent after losses to Boston and the New York Yankees.
The Orioles could have first baseman Ryan Mountcastle back Saturday after he missed time because of a forearm injury.
–Field Level Media