What a difference two weeks make.
When the Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays were originally scheduled to play April 24 in the game that was postponed to create Saturday's doubleheader, the hosts were reeling and had little interest in waiting out the weather to see if they could play around the rain.
Two weeks later, buoyed by a four-game winning streak and sensing a chance to attack a makeshift Rays bullpen, they waited out thunderous sheets of rain and a hailstorm during a 79-minute delay in the sixth inning to play again.
That they ended up losing, 10-3, to split the twin bill was a reminder of the brand of baseball that dragged them to such depths in the first few weeks of the season. But they can take solace from the idea that they wanted to take a run at a fifth straight win.
“There was a game there to be won,” manager Buck Showalter said.
As it turned out, they'd only briefly threaten to follow through on that as they slipped to 12-28 this season.
It was drip, drip, drip; a run an inning against Orioles right-hander Alex Cobb (0-5) in the first four, and then just as he settled into a rhythm, the rain started coming down at Camden Yards.
Cobb had retired seven straight when the skies opened up with two outs in the top of the sixth, but the damage came earlier in the game, and just as quickly as the weather arrived.
No. 2 hitter C.J. Cron homered to center field in the first inning to give the Rays (16-21) a 1-0 lead. Orioles leadoff man Trey Mancini erased it with a home run of his own in the bottom of the inning, but then he played a deep fly ball from Brad Miller into a leadoff triple the following frame and watched as Miller scored to put the Rays ahead, 2-1.
The third inning was the type of misfortune Cobb has been dealing with all season, with a pair of singles, then a grounder to third that could have been multiple outs but was instead an error when third baseman Jace Peterson got ahead of himself and didn't field the ball cleanly. Cobb did well to limit it to one run, but left that inning down 3-1 and saw the deficit extend to 4-1 when Miller homered over the right-center-field bleachers in the fourth.
Cobb was in a groove when the rain came, and left having allowed four runs (three earned) on seven hits with five strikeouts, bringing his ERA to 7.06. He did all that on just 69 pitches, and was shaping up to give the Orioles at the very least the length required to keep their pitching staff whole with 18 innings of pitching required Saturday.
“It's a long day for everybody, and as the starting pitcher, you try to take it upon yourself to make that a little bit easier and go deeper into the ballgame,” Cobb said. “I think I had 69 pitches, somewhere around there, so it was lined up to do that and Mother Nature came and ruined it.”
Mancini's home run was the Orioles' only hit before the delay, and his third-inning walk with two outs was their only other base runner. A series of athletic catches robbed several Orioles, including Mark Trumbo and Caleb Joseph, of extra bases at one point or another.
But the Rays bullpen cadre of Matt Andriese, Sergio Romo and Andrew Kittredge shut them down in five combined innings, and Kittredge was responsible for the Orioles’ next best threat in the sixth.
Joseph doubled to open the inning, and scored on a single by Mancini. Mancini went to third on a double by center fielder Adam Jones and scored on a groundout by second baseman Jonathan Schoop. But Manny Machado struck out before Schoop, and Chris Davis did after, ending the threat with the Orioles still down 4-3.
The sloppy defense that defined the Orioles' brutal start to the season showed up in the seventh to contribute to the deficit being extended. Jimmy Yacabonis walked Denard Span, and wasn't backing up third base after the next batter, Cron, singled to right field. Span made a slow turn around second but tried for third anyway, and Schoop's relay throw hit off Peterson's glove and went into foul territory, allowing Span to score.
An inning later, struggling Rule 5 reliever Pedro Araujo took over. Daniel Robertson walked and scored on a double off the right-field wall by Mallex Smith that skirted past Trumbo on the deflection. Araujo walked three, hit a batter and allowed two runs in the frame.
Mike Wright Jr. got the final out of the eighth, but allowed three runs of his own on a walk and three hits in the ninth as the Rays ended their five-game slide.