Game 34: Defense Lets Down Moore, Rays

By David Hill

Someone forgot to tell the Rays and Orioles that the calender has moved from March.

In a game marred by a total of 7 errors, the Orioles extended their lead in the American League East, as they defeated the Rays 5-3. The Rays jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, on a Brandon Guyer solo home run to lead off the top of the second. However, in the bottom of the inning, the cavalcade of errors began.

Adam Jones led off the inning with a bullet to third. Sean Rodriguez made a nice play to keep the ball from reaching the outfield; however he made a poor throw to first, allowing Jones to reach. Rays starter Matt Moore made a snap throw to first, picking off first baseman Jeff Keppinger and allowing Jones to reach second. After walking Matt Wieters, Moore struck out the next two batters, and appeared to be able to get out of the jam. Steve Tolleson hit the first pitch he saw for a two run double, reaching third base on yet another error when the ball stayed under the padding and slipped past Guyer. Moore got out of further trouble by recording his third strikeout of the inning.

Aside from an error from Orioles first baseman Wilson Betemit, the game settled down until the bottom of the fifth inning. Luis Exposito appeared to have popped up for the first out of the inning, but was awarded first on catcher’s interference, the Rays’ fourth error of the game. After getting an out, J.J. Hardy singled to left, and Nick Markakis walked to load the bases. Jones then hit a ground ball up the middle, scoring Exposito and Hardy and giving the Orioles a 4-1 lead. An error by B.J. Upton, the Rays fifth of the night, allowed Jones to advance, putting runners on second and third. Moore’s night was over, as he allowed 1 earned run over 4.1 innings pitched. His control was erratic all game, as he only threw first pitch strikes to 10 of the 21 batters he faced, leading to 4 walks. He also gave up 4 hits, and struck out 6 batters. Wade Davis came in, and got out of the inning without further damage.

The Rays came right back in the top of the sixth, with the help of another error. With two on and one out, Guyer hit a ground ball to third. Tolleson stepped on the bag to force Sean Rodriguez, but threw wide of first, allowing Guyer to reach second. With runners on second and third, Luke Scott singled to center, driving in both runners and cutting the lead to 4-3.

That score would hold up until the bottom of the eighth inning. With one out, new Oriole Bill Hall hit the first pitch he saw from J.P. Howell for a home run to right, extending the lead to 5-3. That margin would hold up, as Jim Johnson slammed the door shut on the Rays for the second straight night.

The five errors for the Rays tied a team record for most errors in a game, set on May 12, 2000 and tied on April 15,2001, both of which were against the Toronto Blue Jays. Also, all five Rays making an error recorded a hit in the game.