Orioles unable to complete sweep of the Rays

The Baltimore Orioles were hoping for a three-game sweep over the Rays; however, that would not happen on a wild Mother’s Day game at Camden Yards. They lost 9-8 to Tampa Bay and nearly came back twice but could not produce any magic.

The sweep of the Rays would not happen, but the Orioles fought back – again.

Baltimore rebounded from a shaky Jake Arrieta start and was almost buried with the score at 7-1 at the start of the sixth inning. He only lasted 3 2/3 innings and looked terrible on the afternoon.

However, the offense came alive and they came within a run of the lead, 7-6, after the seventh inning as Nick Markakis had two doubles in that period, and Matt Wieters hit a two-run homer.

They would nearly cough up the game in top of the eighth inning as reliever Troy Patton gave up homers to Elliott Johnson and Ben Zobrist to give Tampa a 9-6 advantage; however, the Orioles would get a run back after Nick Johnson homered for the second time this season.

The Orioles, who were down 9-7, to start the bottom of the ninth got a run back as Adam Jones scored on a Sean Rodriguez throwing error; however, they could not complete the comeback as Matt Wieters grounded out to end the contest.

Baltimore is 22-13 right now and lead the American League East by a game. I’m still surprised by the way the Orioles are playing, and came away impressed how they played all twenty-seven outs.

They are 8-5 in their last 13 games, and in that stretch are 7-2 against the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays – all rivals.

However, if they are going to stay in the hunt for a division title, the pitching must improve. Although the Orioles have been playing some decent baseball and have had timely hitting, but the starting pitching has been a problem recently.

I think pitching is 90% of the game along with the mental aspect of things. If a team can not get quality outings from their starters, they will be in trouble. Thankfully, the Oriole offense has been able to dig them out of holes, but that will not every game. At some point, the law of averages will catch with the team, and the trend of close wins may start to dissipate.

They will need consistent starts for every game if they can maintain this pace. Personally, I think Arrieta may have the best ‘stuff’ on the pitching staff; however, if he can not improve his command of his pitches and cannot get past the fifth or sixth inning, that greatly reduces the chances of Baltimore winning.

You can say that goes for every pitcher.

With the Yankees coming into town, the Orioles have another challenge on their hands. They know they have to be on and so do we.

An announced of 29,552 seemed very much into the game at certain points – especially towards the end – and it was a great thing. A lot of Orioles games over the past decade have felt like a golf or tennis tournament; therefore, it was awesome to feel a bit of passion from the home fans at Camden Yards.

Finally, Xavier Avery, who made his majot league debut went 0-for-4 with a strikeout. Pitcher Jason Hammel, who missed a start due to a sore knee, will start on Monday night against the Yankees.