Orioles deny being caught off guard by Tampa Bay's late starting pitcher change in shutout loss

Thank you for supporting our journalism. This article is available exclusively for our subscribers, who help fund our work at The Baltimore Sun.

Buck Showalter didn’t give validity to the notion that the Tampa Bay Rays’ 11th-hour starting pitcher switch just before the first pitch of Tuesday night’s game caught the Orioles off guard in their 2-0 loss at Camden Yards.

Showalter said he received a call from Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash roughly 20 minutes before game time informing him that right-hander Erasmo Ramirez was being scratched in favor of rookie right-hander Austin Pruitt, who would make his first major league start.

The Orioles manager said his team – which was shut out for the first time this season – was prepared for Pruitt.

“We go over all of them in the advance meeting,” Showalter said. “We have all the information we need.”

A forecast that initially called for showers throughout the night gradually improved in the hours leading up to game time, and Cash said he expected a delay around 8:15 p.m., so he switched pitchers because he planned to pitch Ramirez – who has a track record of success as a starter and reliever – after play resumed.

“We had a stronger forecast of rain tonight,” Cash said. “We were pretty convinced starting the game we were going to have some sort of a stoppage within the first hour or so, hour and a half. Their groundskeeper did a tremendous job of keeping us informed, but it adjusted.''

The game was played without delays, even through steady showers at some points.

Pruitt allowed just three base runners – and one hit – over three scoreless innings before Cash used four relievers who held the Orioles to one hit over the final six innings.

“Obviously the rain never really came,” Cash said. “But it worked out in our favor. All of the bullpen did a tremendous job of stepping up. … We kind of managed it like a spring training game and just kept giving different looks to everybody and it just worked in our favor.”

Ramirez warmed up twice, but didn’t get into the game.

Orioles designated hitter Mark Trumbo said that the switch wasn’t a factor in the team’s offensive struggles.

“We were ready,” Trumbo said. “We were ready. It’s not that big a deal.”

Showalter didn’t make any excuses for the lack of offense, but looked forward to getting back on a regular pregame routine. Bad weather has forced on-field batting practice to be canceled for both teams the past two nights, forcing players to hit in the indoor cages.

“There’s a lot of excuses there if you want to reach for them, but we’re not going to,” Showalter said. “Will be nice to get outside. Hopefully we can get some work tomorrow and swing the bats better.”

It wasn’t the first time this season the Rays scratched Ramirez from a start against the Orioles late. On March 29, the Rays scratched Ramirez from a spring training game, replacing him with left-hander Xavier Cedeno against an Orioles batting order written to face a right-hander.

Cedeno pitched just one inning, and Ramirez also pitched an inning in that game, which ended in a 15-6 Orioles loss in Port Charlotte, Fla.