BALTIMORE—César Valdez had dazzled opponents in his first six appearances after a three-year absence from the major leagues. Valdez had thrown 11 1/3 innings without allowing an earned run.
The magic ended in the top of the seventh in the first game of a doubleheader against the Tampa Bay Rays Thursday evening at Camden Yards.
With the scored tied, 1-1, the 35-year-old walked pinch-hitter Randy Arozarena. Michael Pérez doubled and, with runners on second and third, Yoshi Tsutsugo grounded to second baseman Hanser Alberto.
Arozarena raced home with the go-ahead run while the out was made. Brandon Lowe’s sacrifice fly to left put Tampa Bay up by two runs.
The Orioles got two on in the bottom of the seventh — the length of games in a doubleheader — but lost to the Rays, 3-1. They’re 22-28 going into Game 2 in which Ellicott City lefthander Bruce Zimmermann is making his major league debut.
“Unlike him [Valdez], which he hasn’t done, walking the leadoff guy in a tie game,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “He’s been perfect, if not almost perfect. I wasn’t expecting to have him have a 0.00 ERA at the end of the season.”
In the bottom of the seventh, DJ Stewart walked with one out, and Rio Ruiz drew a walk with two outs. With Tampa Bay using four outfielders, Chance Sisco grounded to third baseman Joey Wendle, who made a great stop and threw to shortstop Willy Adames for the force at play.
The Orioles had just three hits.
Starter Dean Kremer threw another solid game for the Orioles. However, the lack of offensive support cost him a win.
Kremer allowed a run on three hits in five innings facing a lineup of eight left-handed hitters, but Tampa Bay left-hander Blake Snell completely shut down the Orioles in the first five innings.
There were no clean innings for Kremer, but no disastrous ones, either.
“I would say I didn’t have my best stuff today,” Kremer said. “I really needed to compete. They put eight lefties out there.”
The Rays scored their run in the second when Austin Meadows, who would later leave the game because of a sore left oblique, walked to lead off. Wendle hit into a force play and, with two outs, Brett Phillips tripled to right, scoring Wendle.
“Early on, it felt like he didn’t have his command, especially with his offspeed stuff,” Hyde said about Kremer. “He got better as the game went on. He was utilizing his fastball more. He got a little more aggressive. Only giving up one run in five innings against a good lineup, facing all left-handed hitters except for one, I thought that was a really good start. It gave us a chande to win.”
Snell allowed just two hits in 5 1/3 innings — Ryan Mountcastle’s first-inning single and a leadoff single by Pat Valaika in the third. Valaika was erased on a double play.
Valaika reached on a walk to begin the sixth, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Andrew Velazquez, and Snell was replaced by Diego Castillo.
Alberto’s grounder to first sent Valaika to third, and he scored on Mountcastle’s single to right, tying the score at 1.
Kremer, whose ERA is 1.69, threw 95 pitches, walked three and struck out six.
After the game, Branden Kline, who was recalled earlier in the day, was optioned to the Bowie alternate site to make room for Zimmermann.
The Orioles will be the visiting team for the second game because the August 27th game at Tampa Bay was postponed.
Harvey strives for better: Last season, Hunter Harvey had a dynamic debut, allowing just a run on three hits in 6 1/3 innings for a 1.42 ERA.
Since his activation after a forearm injury on August 30th, Harvey again has thrown 6 1/3 innings and allowed two earned runs on six hits for a 2.84 ERA.
The big difference is strikeouts. A year ago, Harvey struck out 11 while walking four. This year, he’s struck out just three and walked two.
“I don’t think I’m at my best right now,” Harvey said on a video conference call. “I would like to punch more guys out than I am. My stuff just isn’t clicking like it was last year, but it’s something we’re working on and I’m trying to get there. It’s going to click anytime, and we’ll be good to go.
“This year’s been a little different. It’s been kind of stop-and-go all year, and then the forearm stuff a little setback … last year the way it began, it was smooth all year. It just had a good flow of things and everything was working out. Right now, we’re just trying to get all the kinks out and finish strong.”