Right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez gave the Orioles just their fourth quality start in 19 games this season, but one pitch sent the Orioles to their fourth loss in the past five games.
Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier hit an 0-2 fastball over the right-field fence for a two-run homer with two outs in the sixth inning, handing the Orioles a 3-1 loss on Tuesday night at Tropicana Field.
“When you are not scoring runs, that gets magnified,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “We will take that type of [start]. That’s a very competitive outing on the road. The difference was we couldn’t find a spot [for hits] to fall in. And that’s a tribute to them. We didn’t create enough opportunities and we did create them we couldn’t cash in.”
Jimenez, who has two of the Orioles’ four quality starts, allowed three runs on six hits over six innings, striking out six and walking three.
“I would never say I’m satisfied [with that outing],” Jimenez said. “I wish I could get deeper in the game. Six innings is a quality game, but I’m not satisfied with that. You want to go deeper in the game, that’s what you work for. Six innings, you want to get deeper than that.”
The Orioles must now win Wednesday’s series finale to avoid being swept for the first time this season. Tuesday’s loss also ensured a losing record on the Orioles’ six-game road trip to Kansas City and Tampa Bay.
The struggling Orioles offense didn’t give Jimenez much support. The Orioles have just one run over their last 26 innings and they’ve scored just two runs over their last three games.
The Orioles had their opportunities. Their first four hitters reached base in the fourth inning against Rays starter Jake Odorizzi, but they scored just one run.
Chris Davis opened that inning hitting an unconventional leadoff double, grounding a squibber down the left-field line against the shift and sliding into second safely.
Mark Trumbo followed with a single to left, scoring Davis from third to tie the game at 1. The Orioles were primed for a big inning after a walk to J.J. Hardy and a single by Pedro Alvarez loaded the bases with no outs.
But Jonathan Schoop popped out to shortstop and Caleb Joseph hit into an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play.
“We had their guy on the ropes,” Joseph said. “We had him right where we wanted to and we just didn’t execute. Bases loaded, we need to score some runs there and take a little bit of pressure off Ubaldo.
“We’ve got to execute a little better in that situation. More times than not this season we have. Me personally, we’ve got to pick it up. We’ve got to get that run in, [get] multiple runs [in]. We’ll see. Tomorrow’s a new day. We need a good performance and salvage one of these.”
The Orioles also had runners at second and third with one out in the second, but couldn’t score after Alvarez struck out and Schoop flied out to center.
Jimenez strong in loss
Jimenez put a runner at third base in each of the first three innings, but the Rays managed just one run over that span.
After Desmond Jennings’ sacrifice fly in the third inning gave the Rays a 1-0 lead, Jimenez retired nine of the next 10 batters he faced before Steve Souza Jr. hit a two-out single in the sixth.
He got ahead of Kiermaier 0-2 with a pair of off-speed pitches, but followed with a 90-mph fastball, belt-high and over the heart of the plate that Kiermaier sent into the right-field stands.
Not pretty but effective
After hitting a 2-2 pitch from Odorizzi softly down the left-field line against the shift, Davis was in a full sprint out of the box determined to get a double.
As he slid into second, he initially went in feet first, but adjusted his body to avoid second baseman Logan Forsythe’s tag, pulling his feet away and reaching for the base with his left hand.
Schoop went 0-for-3 on Tuesday and is now in a 2-for-30 slump.
Schoop’s slump dates back to April 15, when he hit a solo homer in the eighth inning of the Orioles’ 11-5 win in Texas.
He had seven extra-base hits in his first 10 games of the season, but doesn’t have one in his past nine games.
Schoop hit into a 6-4-3 double play in the seventh on Tuesday, erasing Alvarez’s leadoff single that inning.