BALTIMORE — Last season, Baltimore Orioles Manager Buck Showalter had the base of the right field foul pole at Camden Yards painted black in order to help discern balls in play from home runs.
Most stadiums have a yellow line on the top of the wall that serves as a marker in cases where there could be doubt. Camden Yards doesn’t, and on most days here, you’ll never notice.
In Baltimore’s 3-1 loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday afternoon, that anonymous nook of the ballpark was the point of focus in front of an announced 37,704 at Camden Yards.
The Orioles lost their season-high fifth straight game Sunday and seventh of their past nine as they were swept in a three-game series for the first time since last June 18-20 at the New York Mets.
“We’ve had some good things . . . happen to us at times,” Showalter said. “That’s part of playing a sport. There’s some unique dips and turns to every season. It’s frustrating for us, but you don’t dwell on it.”
The team’s sixth straight loss at Camden Yards also marked the first time the Orioles have been swept at home since the second series of last season against the Yankees. Now, New York comes to town for three to close out the eight-game homestand.
“In this series, you can point fingers all you want,” center fielder Adam Jones said. “We got beat. It’s a pretty good team, too. Sometimes it happens. We’ve got to go out and get after the Yankees. They’re going to come off and get after us.”
Coming into Sunday’s game, Orioles pitchers had allowed 30 total runs in their past three games, but they did their part in the series finale. Right-hander Chris Tillman recorded his sixth straight quality start, just the second time in the past eight games that an Orioles starter has gone more than five innings.
But Tillman also allowed two homers, including a controversial solo homer by Rays right fielder Matt Joyce in the sixth inning that was reviewed and ruled a home run after a 10-minute delay.
Joyce hit a ball high and deep that hit off the wall and into the right field corner for a double. Showalter sprinted out to argue with first base umpire Dan Iassogna that the ball was foul, and Rays Manager Joe Maddon came out to claim it was a home run.
“I wasn’t even looking where the ball landed,” Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis said. “I just knew that in that area if it hits off there, it’s a concrete wall, so I was just kind of trying to create an angle to the ball, and once the ball didn’t kick right back to me, I knew something was wrong. . . . They got the call right.”
The Orioles stranded a pair of runners at third base in the first four innings against Rays left-hander Matt Moore, who held the O’s to five hits over seven innings. The 23-year-old Moore became the youngest left-hander to open the season 8-0 since Babe Ruth (22) in 1917.
It was the Orioles’ lowest offensive output since a 4-0 loss in Anaheim on May 3.