Rays Bats Come Alive In 9th, Pound Orioles 10-6
The Rays entered the 9th inning trailing the Baltimore Orioles 6-4 and the bottom of their order due up to face Orioles closer Jim Johnson. The Rays didn't lay down and take a loss instead their bats sprung to life and after the first out of the inning was recorded nine consecutive hitters reached base and 6 runs had crossed home plate en route to a 10-6 victory.
The Rays comeback victory ends a streak of 110 straight games that the Orioles had won when they held the lead after 7 and improved the Rays record to 22-20. Alex Torres (1-0, 0.00 ERA) earned his first ML victory since September 24, 2011 against the Toronto Blue Jays. Jim Johnson took the loss for the Orioles (1-4, 3.98 ERA) and the Orioles record falls to 23-19. It was the Orioles 4th loss in a row and Jim Johnson's second blown save in a row after converting a team record 35 saves in a row.
The offensive explosion in the 9th inning will garner much of the attention but the real clutch performer of the day was Alex Torres who entered the game in the 5th inning with the Rays trailing 6-4 and delivered 4 hitless innings of relief striking out 3 and walking 2 to keep the Rays within striking distance.
Thanks to Torres the Rays offense had an opportunity to come back and they seized it. Their ninth inning rally off Orioles closer Jim Johnson was sparked by a 1-out Kelly Johnson solo home run which drew the Rays to within a run at 6-5. After the home run Jim Johnson lost command of the strike zone and walked both Jose Lobaton and Yunel Escobar and fell behind Desmond Jennings 2-0 before a visit by Orioles pitching coach Rick Adair. After the visit Johnson thew back to back strikes to Desmond Jennings and sawed him off but the ball landed just out of the reach of shortstop J.J. Hardy to load the bases and bring Matt Joyce to the plate.
Joyce had already driven in 3 runs on a home run and opposite field double laced a 2-RBI double to give the Rays a 7-6 lead and end Jim Johnson's evening in favor of Darren O'Day who was greeted by a 2-RBI double off the bat of Ben Zobrist which extended the Rays lead to 9-6. After falling behind James Loney 2-0 Buck Showalter ordered the intentional walk to load the bases. O'Day followed with a non-intentional walk to Luke Scott putting the Rays up 10-6.
With the Rays holding a 4-run lead and both Fernando Rodney and Joel Peralta unavailable Joe Maddon turned to Josh Lueke to work the ninth inning. He surrendered an infield hit to Adam Jones but retired Chris Davis on a ground out to second, Matt Wieters on a line out to Sam Fuld who made a nice running catch, and struck out J.J. Hardy to end the game and guarantee the Rays the series victory over the O's.
The afternoon could not have been any worse for Rays starter Roberto Hernandez who had his worst outing of the year lasting only 2-innings and allowing 5R/ER on 8 hits while striking out 1 and walking 0.
The Orioles never allowed him to settle in and capitalized on every pitch he left up in the strike zone. in the first innings he gave up an RBI double to Nick Markakis and then back to back home runs to Adam Jones and Chris Davis giving the Orioles an early 4-0 lead.
The Rays offense which has been one of the best in baseball since mid-April proved once again that it is not a mirage and came back to cut the lead to 4-3 in the top of the 3rd inning. With 1-out Jose Molina hit a ball off the top of the center field fence for a double which was upheld by instant replay. Molina came home on a Yunel Escobar double and 1-out later Matt Joyce delivered a 2-run homer.
After Roberto Hernandez opened the bottom of the 3rd inning by hitting Chris Davis with a pitch (for the second time this season) Joe Maddon had seen enough and made the call to the bullen for left hander Cesar Ramos who struck out Matt Wieters but gave up a RBI double to J.J. Hardy extending the Orioles lead to 5-3.
The Orioles extended their lead to 6-3 in the bottom of the 4th after Ramos issued a leadoff walk to Nate McClouth who stole second, advanced to 3rd on a Nick Markakis single, and came in to score on a Adam Jones ground out.
The Rays cut the lead to 6-4 in the top of the 5th on a double by Jose Molina who injured his hamstring on the bases and had to leave the game. He was replaced by Jose Lobaton who came in to score on a 2-out double by Matt Jocye.
Alex Torres came in to replace Ramos in the 5th inning. Ramos worked 2-innings allowing 1R/ER on 4 hits striking out 2 and walking 1.
Jair Jurrjens worked 5 innings allowing 4R/ER on 6 hits striking out 5 and walking 1. Tommy Hunter followed Jurrjens to the mound and held the Rays scoreless for 2.2 hitless innings striking out 1 and walking 1. Hunter was replaced by Brian Matusz who retired the only batter he had faced turning the ball over to Jim Johnson with the Orioles in front 6-4.