ST. PETERSBURG -- Joey Rickard watched pinch-hitter Seth Smith walk to first base. And then he made the Rays pay.Rickard, a right-handed hitter, was left in to face Rays righty closer Alex Colome. He took advantage, sending an 0-2 offering into left-field for a ground-rule RBI double that drove in
ST. PETERSBURG -- Joey Rickard watched pinch-hitter Seth Smith walk to first base. And then he made the Rays pay.
Rickard, a right-handed hitter, was left in to face Rays righty closer Alex Colome. He took advantage, sending an 0-2 offering into left-field for a ground-rule RBI double that drove in the first of three ninth-inning runs in Baltimore's 8-5 series win Sunday against Tampa Bay.
"[Colome] made a mistake with a breaking ball that [Rickard] was able to smother down the line. Joey gave a peek back over his shoulder [before hitting]. I'm getting ready to tell him, 'Don't look back at me again,'" Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "In a tie game, I'm going to the play the defense [first] there anyway. [Colome] is hard on everybody, righty or lefty, it doesn't matter.
Rickard, who had never faced Colome, said he wasn't anticipating a pinch hitter.
"I was looking back because the stuff was still in the batter's box. I was wondering where the batboy was," Rickard said. "It's awesome that [Showalter] has confidence in me right there."
Rickard, a former Rays prospect who was taken by the Orioles in the 2015 Rule 5 Draft, had five previous doubles on the season. But four of those came against left-handed pitching as he entered the game slugging .314 against righties with a .592 OBP.
"If you miss one pitch, they can [get you]," Colome said of his fateful third selection to Rickard. "If I have to pitch tomorrow, I do the same thing."
Rickard's double, which scored Caleb Joseph, gave the Orioles a 6-5 lead with one out and got the ball rolling in the visiting dugout's direction. Colome followed that up with an intentional walk to Manny Machado and then hit Jonathan Schoop to force another run across. Adam Jones' sacrifice fly drove in Rickard for the third run of the inning.
"That's what makes good teams great, it's that we have our star players and our big-name guys and they're going to do their part," Rickard said. "But it's nice to help them out once in a while."
Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.