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AL East

Rays fall 5-4 in extras, skid continues

The Tampa Bay Rays lost the Baltimore Orioles 5-4 in eleven innings on Saturday night. They have now lost four games in a row and are 4-5 on the season.

Tough Ending: With the game tied at four, Orioles pinch-hitter Pat Valaika blooped a singled to rightfield to give Baltimore a 5-4 win. Valaika was the first batter Chaz Roe faced after replacing Oliver Drake, who did a terrific job holding Baltimore scoreless, accumulating five outs across the tenth and eleventh innings. The Rays were unable to score in their two extra chances despite the new runner-on-second rule. They have been unable to compile clutch hits during their four-game losing streak. The Rays now sit at 4-5 on the season and desperately need a win on Sunday to avoid a sweep at the hands of a team they dominated last season.

Extra oddity: The new extra inning rule certainly has its quirks. After the Dodgers claimed MLB’s first leadoff two-run homer earlier this week, Yoshi Tsutsugo hit into the first leadoff double play in MLB history in the tenth inning. He flied out to deep left and Dwight Smith Jr. easily threw out Ji-Man-Choi attempting to tag up from second base. It is a dubious honor and a poor decision by Choi that may have cost the Rays a win.

Shooting LeBlancs: Soft-tossing Orioles lefty Wade LeBlanc displayed command and guile that would make old-school southpaws like Tom Glavine and Jamie Moyer proud. The wiley veteran baffled Rays hitters by mixing his pitches across all quadrants of the strike zone. He generally induced soft contact, with the exception of Mike Brosseau‘s leadoff homer in the sixth, while scattering four hits and a walk across 5.1 innings.

Leblanc outdueled Tyler Glasnow despite possessing the quieter repitoire of the two. Glasnow occasionally dominated with his high-90’s fastball, but also struggled with bouts of fleeting control. Despite walking three in the second inning, Glasnow held Baltimore scoreless through three. Renato nunez led off the fourth inning by clobbering a fastball to left-center to break a scoreless tie. The Orioles would manufacture another run for an early 2-0 lead. Glasnow’s final line included those two runs on three hits, three walks, and five strikeouts. Velocity disparity be damned, Leblanc won the early battle on Saturday.

Late rally: Facing a 4-1 deficit while appearing lethargic and frustrated for most of the night, the Rays clawed back to tie the game on a Kevin Kiermaier pinch-hit single. His crucial hit was preceded by a rally that included a Yoshi Tsutsugo RBI walk and Jose Martinez‘s run-scoring single to center. This road trip has not been kind to Tampa Bay’s offense, but they earned a chance to win late. Unfortunately, it went for naught.

The defense rests?: Perhaps the most uncharacteristic trend of during this road trip has been shaky performances in the field. We’ve seen dropped infield popups, misplays in the outfield, and routine grounders inexplicably erred upon. After his fourth error of the season, Willy Adames was seen on the broadcast pounding his glove on the bench in anger in the dugout. The Rays currently lead the American League in errors. There is not enough time to compensate for unforced errors in this truncated season. Even in ordinary circumstances, this team does not have the offensive firepower to overcome extraneous runs allowed. No matter the quality of the pitching staff, excessive defensive miscues will haunt any team looking to contend for a championship. The Rays are no exception.

Brosseau bashes Baltimore again: After collecting two hits in Saturday’s game, utility man Mike Brosseau is now 10-for-23 with five home runs in his career at Camden Yards. He has hit six of his seven career homers against Baltimore. The Orioles will be glad to see Brosseau leave town after Sunday’s finale.

Up Next: The Rays look to salvage the series finale in Baltimore. Yonny Chirinos duels with veteran southpaw Tommy Milone in a Sunday matinee (1:35 EST).

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