ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays took hold of the American League East on the second day of the season. They remained in first place for 97 straight days until Thursday night.
The red-hot Orioles came into Tropicana Field and dethroned the home team with a 4-3, 10-inning win in front of a crowd of 20,203.
The Orioles (59-37) hold the division lead after the All-Star break for the first time since Aug. 15, 2016. The Rays (60-40) lost their fifth straight and have had a horrible month of July. They have dropped 12 of 15 games and tied the Pirates for the worst record of the month (3-12). The Orioles, meanwhile, have won 11 of 16.
Before Thursday night’s game, however, Orioles manager Brandon Hyde had a reminder for everyone watching this battle of the best in the East. “It’s only July 20,” Hyde said.
With Aaron Hicks the ghost runner at second, Adam Frazier bunted him to third in the 10th. Isaac Paredes dropped a pickoff throw that would have nabbed Hicks and Colton Cowser brought in the run on a sacrifice fly ball to leftfield for the winning run.
Yandy Diaz doubled on a lined ball through the infield defense and to the centerfield wall to drive in two runs in the seventh and tie the score at 3-3. Diaz pumped both his fists at second base and jumped around. His hit was a breath of fresh air for the Rays, who have looked gassed for the last month.
It was just the second hit for a Rays batter with runners in scoring position over the last 33 innings, but it stalled there. Wander Franco flew out and Luke Raley lined into a double play at second, with Diaz doubling off.
Tyler Glasnow had given the Rays all they needed.
The right-hander allowed three runs, two earned, on six hits. He did not walk a batter and struck out nine. He generated 16 swings-and-misses, including nine on his curveball. It was the first time since he had Tommy John surgery that he had recorded an out in the seventh inning.
The Rays had at least one runner in scoring position in each of the first five innings and were held to just one run. Francisco Mejia came up with an RBI single in the second to give the Rays a short-lived 1-0 lead. Mejia left the game after the sixth inning with what the team called “left knee discomfort.”
The Orioles took advantage of the opening the Rays gave them. In the fourth, Gunnar Henderson led off with a triple that got past Tyler Walls. Adley Rutschman singled on a ground ball to rightfield, allowing Henderson to score. Anthony Santander singled and the runners advanced on a wild pitch. Henderson scored on a sacrifice fly to left, beating an off-the-mark throw by Arozarena. Aaron Hicks singled on a ground ball to left, and Santander scored when Mejia dropped the ball on a tag at the plate.
This story will be updated.
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