The Rays (82-65) led late, but could not hold their tenuous 2-1 lead, falling to the Baltimore Orioles (59-88) and falling to 4.0 games back in the Wild Card race. Unfortunately, the Rays starter David Price and reliever J.P. Howell (L, 2-3) each saw just one batter too many.
The Rays took a 2-1 lead in the sixth when Evan Longoria smacked a homer to left. And though David Price was looking strong, it felt obvious the Rays needed more offense to secure a win.
Price started the day well, allowing only 1 unearned run through 6 and 2/3 innings, striking out 6 and walking 3. But with Nolan Reimold on second base, pinch hitter Jake Fox powered a cutter to the left field gap, tying the game at 2-2 with a double.
Then, in the 7th, J.P. Howell came into the game in relief of Juan Cruz. Howell got two deep fly outs to start the inning, but then walked Vladimir Guerrero. This brought up the switch-hitting catcher Matt Wieters, who was sporting a 1.071 OPS against left-handed pitcher in 2011. Wieters then smacked a crushing homer to left, giving the Orioles the crucial 4-2 lead. Brandon Gomes then came in to close out the inning for Howell.
Just like that, the Rays had essentially lost the game. After a short top of the 9th, the Rays were back to 4 games behind the Boston Red Sox in the Wild Card race.
- In the bottom of the 5th, Desmond Jennings made a stand-up-and-shout-at-your-television catch, sprinting into the left field wall as he snagged a liner from Robert Andino.
- B.J. Upton continues to play well, going 1 for 4 with a walk and 2 steals. Evan Longoria also hit well, knocking the aforementioned homer as well as an early-game double. Altogether, though, the offense combined for 11 Ks and just 2 BBs.
- J.P. Howell now has an ERA over 6.00 this year and seems to be struggling mightily with his command. Having missed over a year with his recent injury, he is basically getting undergoing on-the-job Spring Training. Hopefully he can sort out his issues quickly and return to his previous late-inning dominance.