Showalter's reshuffled lineup can't help Orioles shake slump
BALTIMORE — Buck Showalter shuffled the lineup and put Manny Machado at shortstop in an effort to bring the Baltimore Orioles out of a slump that's nearly obliterated their playoff hopes.
Although Machado played well enough in the field, the Orioles continued their funk at the plate and lost 6-3 to the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night.
It was the 11th defeat in 12 games for Baltimore. The Orioles have not scored more than three runs in any of those losses, and in this one they stranded 11 and went 3 for 11 with runners in scoring position.
It's gotten so bad that Showalter found himself lauding his hitters for forcing Tampa Bay starter Chris Archer to use 113 pitches to get through six innings.
"I was impressed with the at-bats," Showalter said. "We had him over 100 pitches in the fifth inning. We had a lot better quality at-bats than we've been having. We just couldn't finish off those innings."
Machado, a third baseman who won a Gold Glove in 2013, started at shortstop for the first time in the big leagues. He made an excellent play in the sixth, ranging far to his right to make a backhand pickup in the hole before making an off-balance, one-hop throw that retired Rene Rivera.
Showalter got three catchers in the lineup by placing Caleb Joseph behind the plate, shifting Matt Wieters to first base and using Steve Clevenger as the designated hitter.
Clevenger drove in two runs, but Wieters went 0 for 4 and Joseph had one hit in three at-bats.
Wei-Yin Chen (8-7) allowed five runs and nine hits in 4 2-3 innings. The left-hander was 4-0 in seven starts since July 21.
"It's a thing it's my command because you have to pitch to the corners because they are major league hitters," Chen said through an interpreter. "If you keep pitching down the middle you will get hit."
Asdrubal Cabrera and Evan Longoria homered off Chen, and Tim Beckham added a solo shot against Brad Brach. Logan Forsythe had three hits for the Rays, coming within a home run of the cycle.
Archer (12-10) gave up no runs, four hits and three walks. He struck out six in earning his first win against Baltimore in seven starts since June 7, 2013.
"It seemed like he really settled in after about the 80th pitch," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "We're not going to nitpick, though. It was a pretty outstanding outing."
Brad Boxberger, the third Rays reliever, worked the ninth for his 33rd save.
Forsythe singled with two outs in the fourth, and Cabrera followed with his 10th home run to make it 3-0. A bases-empty drive by Longoria capped a two-run fifth, and Beckham led off the sixth with his seventh homer for a 6-0 lead.
A two-run single by Clevenger highlighted a three-run seventh against Matt Andriese.
LONG TIME COMING
Rays: Forsythe's triple was his first since April 28, ending a career-long stretch of 106 games without a three-bagger.
Orioles: Machado's last start at SS in a pro game was on Aug. 12, 2012 while with Double-A Bowie.
Rays: CF Kevin Kiermaier left in the third inning with a mild right ankle sprain. He leapt for a sensational, home-run-robbing catch of a drive by Machado in the bottom of the first. Before the game, Cash called Kiermaier "the best center fielder in the game."
Orioles: Pitching prospect Dylan Bundy has been cleared by Dr. James Andrews to start a throwing program. Bundy has a calcium buildup in his right shoulder.
Rays: Drew Smyly (1-2, 3.82 ERA) makes his fourth start since returning from the 60-day DL on Tuesday night. He's 2-0 with a 1.00 ERA lifetime against Baltimore.
Orioles: Chris Tillman (9-9, 4.58 ERA) takes a third stab at his 10th win of the season.