The Tampa Bay Rays have the best record in baseball and improved upon it with a 7-0 victory over the Orioles on Friday night at Camden Yards. The outcome was never in doubt.
In fact, the only question remaining after the first inning was this:
What were the Pittsburgh Pirates thinking when they included pitcher Tyler Glasnow in the trade last July for veteran Chris Archer?
Obviously, it seemed like the thing to do at the time, but it’s starting to look like the deal of the century for the Rays, who also got promising outfielder Austin Meadows and another minor league prospect in the bargain.
Nobody has to tell that to the Orioles, who were dominated by the towering right-hander for the second time this season. He didn’t give up a hit until the fourth inning and was never threatened in a seven-inning performance that improved his record to 6-0 and dropped his ERA to 1.47.
“That was electric stuff,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “That’s really, really good. It’s upper 90s to 100-mile fastball with a great hook and a changeup that’s 92 to 94 that acts like a two-seam fastball. Tonight he had all three going in any count he wanted. On a night like that, you just have to tip your hat to a really, really good pitcher that had his stuff.”
The Rays greeted Orioles starter Dan Straily with back-to-back doubles to take an immediate lead in the first inning and put up four runs in the fourth to pretty much settle the issue.
Glasnow took the mound in the bottom of the first and struck out the side to begin a string of 11 straight outs before Dwight Smith Jr. beat out an infield hit to take a no-hitter off the table, but it sure looked like a possibility up to that point.
The Orioles had slightly more luck against Glasnow when they faced him at Tropicana Field on April 16. He also pitched seven innings in that game and allowed two runs on seven hits in his fourth victory of the year. He has not allowed more than two runs in any of his seven 2019 starts.
No doubt, the Rays knew they were getting a pretty good pitcher, but nothing in the stat record indicated that Glasnow could be this good. He had a dismal 4-16 record in the majors before this season, including a 1-5 record for the Rays after the trade last season.
“I saw him in Pittsburgh and saw the stuff,’’ Hyde said. “His command has really improved. Tonight he had everything going and when you have that kind of stuff and command...you’re going to have that kind of night.”
Nobody had to tell that to O’s outfielder Trey Mancini, who struck out three times against Glasnow and four times overall for the first time in his career. He said afterward his first “golden sombrero” had everything to do with how good Glasnow has become and nothing to do with the finger injury that cost him several games on the recent road trip.
“You’ve got to tip your cap,’’ Mancini said. “It’s frustrating, but dude threw a good game. He did a great job, executed his pitches, so it’s tough. His breaking ball, especially, looks like his fastball out of the hand, so you kinda try not to give up on it, but he spotted it well and was really good out there.”
Obviously, somebody figured something out, which is another tribute to the Rays and their ability to acquire and develop good pitching.
Friday night’s game also featured another strong offensive performance by the Rays. The big blow was a three-run homer by catcher Mike Zunino in the four-run fourth inning, and the Rays added two more runs in the sixth.
“Just really want that slider back,’’ Straily said. “I just feel like pretty much anywhere else on the plate, anything else, it’s probably a different result. So, it’s really frustrating. Really want that pitch back, but that’s not how the game works, so we’ve just got to keep moving forward.”
Straily lasted 4 1/3 innings and gave up five earned runs on nine hits, dropping his record to 1-2 and raising his ERA to 7.43. Reliever Yefry Ramirez came on to pitch the remaining 4 2/3 innings to save some bullpen arms for the rest of the weekend.
Ramirez struggled with his control briefly and gave up a couple of runs in the sixth inning. Hyde praised the overall effort, but Ramirez was a bit more critical of his performance.
“I think it was a good outing overall,” he said through interpreter Ramon Alarcon, “but there is some consistency to be made that I’m going to continue to work on and hopefully do a better job the next time out.”