Big all-around game for Joey Rickard lost in series-opening defeat to Rays

Twice in the fifth inning of Friday night's game against the Tampa Bay Rays, Orioles left fielder Joey Rickard finished a play on the ground.

With one out, he sprinted into foul territory, reaching into the stands to grab Rays center fielder Mallex Smith's fly ball while slamming his ribs into the padded wall.


One batter later, he charged in, sliding on his knees to catch Rays left fielder Corey Dickerson's line drive to end the inning.

Despite the Orioles' 6-4 loss in 10 innings, Rickard's defensive prowess and offensive production — he went 2-for-3 with a home run and an RBI double — drew praise from manager Buck Showalter.


"Joey had [as] good an all-around night as you want to see somebody have," Showalter said. "He's one of the few guys who had good swings off their guy, but he was solid."

Showalter highlighted Rays starter Jacob Faria after the game because the rookie right-hander held the Orioles to four hits and three runs (two earned), striking out six in 6 2/3 innings.

But Rickard had a theory for why he had success against the organization whose minor league system he played for until the Orioles made him a Rule 5 draft pick before last season.

A ninth-round draft choice of the Rays in 2012, Rickard played on High-A and Double-A teams with Faria, who was making his fifth career start in the major leagues Friday. Rickard also went 1-for-3 against Faria when the Orioles faced him last Saturday.

"I'm very familiar with him," Rickard said. "It's always fun going out there and seeing guys you played with getting to the major leagues."

"Good ol' Joey," Faria said. "I missed 3-2, he hit a double and I left a slider over the middle [on the home run]. I don't even think it was that bad of a pitch."

Rickard's fifth-inning catches, which elicited a standing ovation from the Camden Yards crowd as he returned to the dugout, paved the way for another acrobatic escape for the Orioles defense in the sixth inning.

Starter Chris Tillman, who allowed seven hits and two runs in five innings, loaded the bases with no outs before Miguel Castro relieved him.


Castro then induced a ground ball to third baseman Manny Machado, who started a 5-2-3 double play to force the runner out at home before catcher Welington Castillo completed the sequence to first baseman Trey Mancini.

After Castro, called up from Double-A Bowie before the game, recorded a strikeout to end the frame, Rickard tied the game at 2 in the bottom of the inning when he hit that slider over the left-center-field wall.

"Just consistency," said Rickard, who also went 2-for-3 with a double and a walk in Thursday's win against the Toronto Blue Jays. "I feel like I've just been seeing the ball well and getting a good pitch to hit."

While the Orioles didn't manage the win, blowing a 3-2 lead in the ninth inning, Rickard, who said he had a scab on his elbow from his fifth-inning collision with the wall, was pleased to have found a rhythm.

"A good one to win, a tough one to lose," Rickard said. "But the good thing is we've got another one tomorrow."