BALTIMORE—It was a night Ellicott City’s Bruce Zimmermann will remember, even if he wishes the outcome had turned out differently.
Zimmermann had his contract purchased from the Bowie alternate site, and the rookie left-hander had a rough debut in the second game of a doubleheader against the Tampa Bay Rays, allowing five runs on four hits in three-plus innings in the Orioles’ 10-6 loss Thursday night at Camden Yards.
It completed a sweep for the Rays, who defeated the Orioles, 3-1, in the first game.
After successful debuts by Keegan Akin and Dean Kremer, the Orioles hoped that Zimmermann also would find success in his first major league game.
“I’ve been to this stadium numerous times with family and friends, watching the Orioles, but it was a little different feeling driving up to the stadium today,” Zimmermann said. “I was taking it all in and realizing it was the culmination of a lot of hard work.”
In the bottom of the first, Zimmermann hit Hunter Renfroe and walked Brandon Lowe. With two outs, Willy Adames, who struck out four times in Game 1, hit a three-run home run to left.
“I thought I’d have a little bit more nerves but, honestly, the worst of my nerves was like an hour before the first game,” Zimmermann said. “I went out into the dugout by myself and it kind of just hit me a little bit, but once I got out in the bullpen and started working and got that done, it really wasn’t that bad.”
Hanser Alberto homered with one out in the second, his third, and in the top of the third, DJ Stewart walked and scored on Ryan Mountcastle’s double against Trevor Richards.
Renfroe homered to begin the bottom of the third, his eighth, and the Rays had a 4-2 lead.
“Overall, I felt like my stuff was good, and it was a start that I can build on,” Zimmermann said. “I’m looking forward to the next one.”
The Orioles scored four in the fourth. Chance Sisco led off with a single and, with one out, Rio Ruiz homered to right, his ninth, and the scored was tied.
Ryan Thompson replaced Richards and, after he struck out Austin Hays, Pat Valaika and Cedric Mullins singled, and Stewart doubled to right, scoring Valaika and Mullins and giving the Orioles a 6-4 lead.
Zimmermann had plenty of family and friends watching but, because there were no fans, they had to watch on television. Their absence decreased his nervousness.
“It’s definitely a different atmosphere,” he said. “The adrenaline’s still there, but it definitely subsided in the second, third inning. It’s still amazing to be on a big league mound and be a big league pitcher and everything.
“I felt a little different without the fans there, but it’s hopefully something to look forward to in 2021 where hopefully myself, Dean, and a couple of other guys who made their debuts this year, Akin, would kind of get a debut 2.0 in 2021 where hopefully we will have our family and friends in the stands.”
After Nate Lowe singled to begin the Tampa Bay fourth, manager Brandon Hyde pulled Zimmermann, and Travis Lakins got two outs before Joey Wendle launched his third home run of the season to right to tie the score, 6-6.
“You only get one debut, and it was pretty surreal overall,” Zimmermann said.
An ugly fifth: The fifth inning was an unsightly reminder of how far the Orioles are from being a contending team. Against one of the best teams in baseball, the Orioles allowed four runs.
“Not real good,” manager Brandon Hyde said.
The Orioles are a season-low, seven games below .500 at 22-29 and are 1-7 in doubleheader games this season.
Cole Sulser began the fifth of a 6-6 tie by walking Mike Brosseau, who stole second. Brosseau advanced to third on a throwing error by third baseman Ruiz on Willy Adames’ infield hit. Nate Lowe’s single gave Tampa Bay the go-ahead run.
Manuel Margot bunted to Dillon Tate, who relieved Sulser. Tate couldn’t make a play, and the bases were loaded. Kevan Smith’s swinging bunt was another that Tate couldn’t handle, and Adames scored.
“When Tate came in, he didn’t give up a ton of hard contact at all,” Hyde said. “I just didn’t think the ball bounced our way that inning.”
Wendle and Randy Arozarena hit sacrifice fly balls to left, and the Orioles were behind, 10-6.
“I don’t think we caught a whole lot of breaks,” Hyde said. “They made their own breaks by playing really good defense.”
Odds and ends: The Orioles were the visiting team because the game was made up because of the August 27th postponement at Tampa Bay … Mullins led off with a bunt single, his major league leading ninth … Alex Cobb will start against Tyler Glasnow on Friday night … Zimmermann is the 45th player used by the Orioles this season and is the first in club history to wear No. 85 … Evan Phillips, who struck out all four batters he faced as the 29th man, was returned to the Bowie alternate site after the game.