The Orioles' prolific offense hasn't been as productive in the second half of the season, but it brought the bats out in the first two games this week in Tampa Bay.
With their 11-2 win over the Rays on Tuesday night, the Orioles opened their key nine-game road trip with back-to-back wins at Tropicana Field, propelled by their power hitters.
The Orioles hit three homers, including Manny Machado's third grand slam of the season, capping a six-run fourth against Tampa Bay starter Jake Odorizzi in front of an announced 12,207 at Tropicana Field.
“I think people are overlooking how well we are executing and hitting in key situations,” Machado said. “Things are starting to click for us, we're starting to play as a team. It's been fun for the last couple days. It's been fun doing what we're doing. We're excited for the rest of September, and we're going to see what happens in the long run.”
The Orioles have scored 18 runs in two games here. Their 11 runs Tuesday was their most in their past 18 games.
They have hit 218 homers this season, the second-most in franchise history, passing last year's club and trailing only the 1996 team's 257.
The Orioles (76-62), winners of four of their past five games, moved within one game of the American League East-leading Toronto Blue Jays, who lost in New York on Tuesday.
The Orioles battered Odorizzi, who was 6-0 and had a 1.89 ERA since the All-Star break. The Orioles scored seven runs on six hits and three walks over five innings against him.
“This is a tough place to play,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “You have to be a self-starter. You've got to get yourself ready to play. ... They're capable of good baseball. We faced one of the best pitchers in the American League today. … He had like eight pitches in the first inning, and before you know it. …We had a lot of good at-bats after that first inning. I think we wore him down.”
Chris Davis and Adam Jones also homered for the Orioles, but it was Machado, with two outs in the fourth, who broke the game open.
J.J. Hardy gave the Orioles their first lead with a broken-bat two-run double down the left-field line with the bases loaded earlier in the inning, and three batters later, Machado stepped to the plate with the bases loaded again.
Machado lifted a full-count fastball an estimated 411 feet into the left-center-field stands. Machado, who drove in five runs, has 34 homers and a career-high 90 RBIs.
“When they start talking about MVPs, they've got to talk about him, too … just all around,” Showalter said. “It's been an honor to watch him play every day. I know he just missed a couple of pitches in previous at-bats, and he battled his way back in the count. He had a lot of good at-bats before that to set that situation up.”
The Rays (58–79), who abruptly fired hitting coach Derek Shelton after Ubaldo Jimenez pitched the Orioles' first complete game in two years Monday, didn't put up much offense again.
This time, Yovani Gallardo righted himself after giving up a leadoff homer to Logan Forsythe. Gallardo allowed two runs, one earned, on five hits in five innings.
Gallardo (5-7) earned his first win since Aug. 5, snapping a stretch of five starts without a win.
"I think for myself, giving up that run in the first inning, just got to leave it at that," Gallardo said. "Just control the innings, limit the damage, and let the guys come back in and swing the bats."
Davis homers, leaves game early: After Davis homered for the second straight game and the third time in five games, he left the game with what Showalter called soreness in his left palm.
Showalter said taking Davis out in the fifth inning was a precaution.
“He's not going to be 100 percent again until about two months after the season,” Showalter said. “I can say that about all of them, but just didn't want to take a chance there, get jammed there and have it kind of really get sore. It's not [something that happened] now. It's something he's had for a long time. It's something he doesn't like talking about.”
Davis, who said he's been playing through the injury since April, said he won't miss time.
“I've been playing with it since April, so we will keep going,” Davis said. “We'll see what tomorrow brings when tomorrow brings it. … Some days it hurts, some days it hurts more. You try to find a way through it.”
Davis' second-inning solo homer blast off Odorizzi tied the game at 1. He hit a full-count 93-mph fastball over the left-center-field fence for his 35th homer of the season.
The blast gave Davis his third 35-homer season with the Orioles, joining Boog Powell (three) and Rafael Palmeiro (four) as the only players in club history with three seasons of 35 or more homers.
Bullpen shuts Rays down: Four Orioles combined to pitch four shutout innings in relief of Gallardo, including left-hander Brian Duensing, who worked the sixth inning in his first outing since he missed nearly 10 weeks with an elbow injury that required surgery. Mychal Givens pitched the seventh, Donnie Hart the eighth and Tommy Hunter the ninth.