ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Orioles’ 2022 season was all the time going to start difficultly. Some gamers who may very well be fixtures of Baltimore’s subsequent good crew are maybe already in place, however most of the group’s ballyhooed prospects aren’t set to reach till midseason.
There’s a transparent want on the pitching aspect, the place about half of the Orioles’ bullpen choices got here to Baltimore as waiver claims. That’s solely the case as a result of, lower than per week earlier than Friday’s season opener towards the Tampa Bay Rays, the Orioles traded high-leverage relievers Tanner Scott and Cole Sulser to the Miami Marlins. The pair very properly may need served as supervisor Brandon Hyde’s main setup man and nearer, in some mixture, had they been out there to him.
But within the Orioles’ first regular-season sport of 2022, and their first since that commerce, the opening left behind their bullpen was clear. The Rays scored the go-ahead run within the backside of the eighth inning to open Baltimore’s season with a 2-1 defeat. It marked the Orioles’ thirteenth straight loss to Tampa Bay, having gone 1-18 towards the American League East champions in 2021.
“Really tough, but at the same time, really good game,” mentioned right-hander Jorge López, who was on the mound when the successful run scored. “We know they have really good hitters. My plan was just attack, and unfortunately, I couldn’t get the plan [to be] successful.
“It’s a really tough one. But we just keep our head up and just thinking of tomorrow already.”
With Tyler Wells moved to the rotation, Hyde’s bullpen options solely two gamers who earned a save for Baltimore final season in Dillon Tate and Paul Fry, who bookended López’s outing within the eighth. After Tampa Bay made Orioles starter John Means work to finish 4 innings of one-run ball, relievers Bryan Baker and Cionel Pérez — offseason waiver claims making their Orioles debuts —mixed with Tate to retire the following 9 Rays. But after Tate allowed a leadoff single within the eighth, Hyde introduced in López, who struggled within the Orioles’ rotation final season however confirmed potential in a aid position.
After an eight-pitch battle with Ji-Man Choi resulted in a stroll and a 49.9 mph infield single adopted, Francisco Mejía lifted a sacrifice fly off López for the decisive run. Another stroll reloaded the bases, with Fry coming into and stranding three runners after struggling immensely towards Tampa Bay in 2021.
“I wanted Lopie in the biggest part of the game, when it mattered,” Hyde mentioned. “They got a swinging bunt single, safe at first base, pretty much cost us the game. Just bad luck on our part.”
The sport had been tied since Anthony Santander homered to even the rating within the sixth, however the Orioles did not capitalize on their different alternatives, ending 0-for-7 with runners in scoring place. They loaded the bases with one out within the first towards Tampa Bay starter Shane McClanahan however have been unable to supply a run. McClanahan, born in Baltimore, struck out seven Orioles in 4 1/3 scoreless innings.
Baltimore batters struck out 14 instances within the season-opening defeat, the final of which got here when All-Star Cedric Mullins struck out to finish the sport after pinch-hitter Rougned Odor singled in his first at-bat as an Oriole.
“I thought we faced some really good pitching, and credit goes to them,” Hyde mentioned. “They have really good arms. That’s been known for a long time now, and they threw the ball extremely well, so it was tough at-bats. We had an early opportunity, kind of let them off the hook there in the first by not cashing in for a run or two there. That might have changed some things, but they threw the ball extremely well.”
With spring coaching shortened by two weeks with the league coming off a 99-day lockout, beginning pitchers aren’t going to be as constructed up as they usually are. So as Means noticed his pitch depend climb in a prolonged second inning, he knew his time within the sport can be transient.
The Rays pushed Means to 84 pitches in 4 frames, fouling off 24 of these for the very best proportion of foul balls Means has allowed in any begin that lasted greater than an inning, in line with Baseball Savant.
He wanted solely 25 pitches to document 5 outs however required 19 extra to complete the second inning, with Rays designated hitter Josh Lowe working a 10-pitch stroll. A 25-pitch third adopted, with the Rays scoring the sport’s first run of a sacrifice fly from Brandon Lowe (Maryland).
“I knew, especially with those long, long innings that I was probably going to be limited to four or five, and then the next one was long and I was like, OK, let’s get through the fourth,’” Means mentioned. “It was a grinder for the first one.”
Means induced 11 swing-and-misses via three innings, tied for the second most he’s had at that time in any begin. Six of these got here on his changeup, and he completed with 5 strikeouts in his 4 innings.
It wasn’t as crisp as his first opening day begin, when he held the Boston Red Sox to at least one hit over seven scoreless innings final 12 months. But Hyde was happy with the efficiency, even when Means felt it matched the “five-and-dive” performances he posted throughout his All-Star rookie season.
“That was as far as we were gonna allow them to go, to 80-ish pitches,” Hyde mentioned. “He pitched out of trouble a little bit, and I thought he had a really good changeup today. Happy with giving up one run through four innings against a good club.”
Beginning this 12 months, MLB umpires will make in-ballpark bulletins for the outcomes of replay critiques. The Orioles have been the beneficiaries of the primary they have been concerned with.
With Tate pitching within the seventh, speedster Kevin Kiermaier hit a groundball to 3rd baseman Kelvin Gutiérrez, along with his throw quickly pulling first baseman Ryan Mountcastle off the bag. First base umpire CB Bucknor dominated Mountcastle didn’t return to the bottom earlier than Kiermaier reached it.
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The Orioles challenged the decision, and after a assessment, residence plate umpire and crew chief Jeff Nelson’s voice got here via Tropicana Field’s booming sound system.
“After review, the call is overturned,” Nelson mentioned. “The runner is out.”
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