The Orioles' series finale with the Tampa Bay Rays had already included a series of unusual plays when Evan Longoria came up in the eighth inning and lined a Jeremy Accardo pitch to center field.
Orioles center fielder Adam Jones broke on the ball, but it tailed away from him and hit off his glove, rolling all the way to the center-field wall. Jones sprinted after it, but by the time he threw the ball back into second baseman Ryan Adams, Longoria was rounding third. He scored pretty easily, and the two-run, inside-the-park homer giving the Rays a four-run lead on the way to a 9-6 victory at Camden Yards.
"I missed the ball. I had a shot at it, I just missed the ball," Jones said. "It was a big play. It changed the game from 7-5 to 9-5. We still had some opportunities. It just didn't happen, man."
The inside-the-park homer was the ninth in Rays history, and the third in Camden Yards' 20-year history. Shane Halter (May 6, 2003) and Butch Davis (Sept. 22, 1993) have the other two.
"You hit balls like that in batting practice all the time, where it comes off the bat and has that knuckle action, but it doesn't happen too often in games," Longoria said. "I saw he had his glove up so I thought he was going to catch the ball. As soon as I saw it take that left turn, I put my head down. As soon as I went around second I knew I was going home. I was gassed by the time I got around third, but I was able to keep chugging and beat the throw."
Jones, who could have been assessed an error on the play, then got some ribbing from the fans in the center-field bleachers.
"It's cool when everybody out there starts ripping you when you usually catch everything," he said. "But it's all good. "
Reynolds exits after two errors
Orioles third baseman Mark Reynolds had quite a home stand with five homers and 11 RBIs in the nine games. However, he had a particularly rough afternoon Sunday, making two errors — both leading to runs — before leaving the game before the top of the eighth inning with a left forearm contusion.
Reynolds was nailed by Sean Rodriguez's hard one-hopper in the fifth inning. X-rays taken were negative, and Reynolds said that he'll get treatment Monday and is hopeful of being in the Orioles' lineup for Tuesday's series opener in Toronto.
"When it first happened it wasn't too bad. It was hurting just a little bit," Reynolds said. "As the game went on, kind of sitting around, it started swelling up a lot. I couldn't really grip the bat very well, turn my wrist over so I wasn't going to hurt the team by going out there and trying to hit when I couldn't."
Reynolds' two errors gave him 14 for the season. No other Oriole has more than six, and no other big league third baseman has more than 11.
"It [stinks]," Reynolds said. "The first error I was trying to be aggressive, coming with the ball and making the play at home. The second one I couldn't sit back on it because I knew B.J. [Upton] has some speed and I got an in-between hop. Just two rough hops that kind of forced myself to get them, but I'm not worried about anything. It's just that I definitely need to be consistent over there playing defense."
Britton will have to wait
Wanting Zach Britton's rookie season to prolong into September, the Orioles have pushed back his next outing a couple of days. Britton was originally scheduled to start Tuesday, but Chris Jakubauskas, who threw five scoreless innings June 7 against the Oakland Athletics, will make that start instead. Britton will now start Friday's series opener against the Washington Nationals.
"We got x number of innings with Zach this year and we'd really like to figure out a way, if we can, to have him pitch in September," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "So if we get some opportunities we'll do that with him so that we don't have to necessarily shut him down in August."
Britton, 23, pitched a career-high 153 1/3 innings last year between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk, and the Orioles don't want that total to increase by much more than 20 innings. So the expectation is that Britton will be shut down when he gets to around the 175-inning mark. He's already at 82 innings following his 13 starts.
"He's in a good spot physically and we're doing everything we can to keep it that way," Showalter said.
A little help, please
While taking nothing away from Rays left fielder Justin Ruggiano for elevating over the left-field wall and taking a homer away from J.J. Hardy in the seventh inning Saturday, several Orioles were still confounded why they didn't get a little more help from the home fans.
A fan seated in the front row actually pulled back to give Ruggiano ample room to catch the ball. That was not the only time that happened on Saturday as Rays first baseman Casey Kotchman was not impeded as he reached into the seats to try and catch a foul ball.