Ray allowed a three-run homer to Andy Marte in the sixth inning, and the Orioles endured a long soggy stoppage, squandering whatever momentum Tillman's outing provided before losing, 5-3, to the Cleveland Indians on Saturday night.
"Kind of an unusual night, wasn't it?" asked Baltimore manager Dave Trembley, who endured rain, flooding and said the Orioles' fortunes turned on their pitching staff's inability to keep runners off base before the Indians homered.
Tillman, who remains stuck on one victory in seven Major League starts, acknowledged he struggled with his command through five innings, departing only after a 97-minute delay interrupted a promising outing. Trembley said Tillman might have had one more inning left in him, but expressed confidence in turning the game over to Ray. The right-handed reliever had allowed only one earned run in his past 18 innings over 15 appearances since being activated from the disabled list July 31 following a bout with right biceps tendinitis.
"I thought [Ray] threw one good split and he struck [Jhonny Peralta] out [for the first out in the sixth]," said Trembley. "Other than that, he just didn't seem to have the life and the finish on the split and on his slider. His fastball was OK, but in that situation, it would have been to our benefit to put a zero up, and he just had to work way too hard."
Ray wasn't pleased with the result of the full-count slider Marte clobbered for his second homer in three nights against the Baltimore bullpen and realized in retrospect that his decision to rely on sliders during the inning wasn't prudent.
"I didn't want to just groove a fastball right there," said Ray. "I ended up throwing a slider, and he hit it over the fence. It was just one of those things where I didn't make the pitches that I needed to make tonight. I think I second-guessed my pitch selection that whole inning. I threw way too many sliders. Once you throw that many sliders, they're timing it and they're looking slider and it's no longer effective. I think I should have mixed in some fastballs there, but hindsight is always 20-20."
Said Trembley: "I'd like [Ray] to throw the pitch that he has the most conviction with and he's the most confident that he can get the guy out with. If he felt it was the slider, then that's what he goes with."
Ray's mistake was the critical error after the deluge. What started as a second-inning drizzle mushroomed into a downpour by the top of the fifth, when the game was tied at 1. The Indians were retired in order in the top of the inning, but the Orioles manufactured a go-ahead run before play was halted at 8:47 p.m. ET for 97 minutes. Ty Wigginton led off with a single to left, moved to second on Chad Moeller's sacrifice bunt, advanced to third on a deep flyout by Brian Roberts and scored on Cesar Izturis' triple to the gap in right-center. Crew chief Tim Tschida then called for the tarp as the rain intensified.
"I knew the rain was coming. We did what we had to do to try to score the run there," Trembley explained. "Izturis had a heck of an at-bat. I mean, for goodness sakes, how are you going to have that kind of at-bat in that kind of rain and in those kinds of conditions?"
Once the precipitation subsided, it took additional time for the grounds crew and stadium operations personnel to deal with flooding at least a foot deep in both dugouts and rising water in the tunnel leading to the umpires' room. Before the game resumed at 10:24 p.m., the Indians couldn't access their dugout through the connected tunnel from the clubhouse because of hallway flooding and had to enter the field through the chute behind home plate connecting the field to the umpires' dressing room.
Tschida said there was never a doubt that the game could be resumed, though it took almost 30 minutes for the dugout tunnel flooding to abate to manageable levels.
Rafael Perez (4-2) relieved starter Jeremy Sowers, getting Adam Jones on a comebacker for the final out of the fifth as the showers resumed. It was the first of four outs Perez got in recording his second victory in three nights. Chris Perez pitched the ninth for his first save as an Indian.
Tillman departed after yielding one run on six hits over five innings, walking none and striking out two.
"It was probably the worst I felt all season, actually. ... Personally, [my fastball] didn't feel like it was down tonight. [Pitching coach Rick Kranitz] told me it looked good coming out of my hand. As long as it's live, velocity doesn't really matter," Tillman said. "It's location and how it's coming out of your hand. All together, I felt great. My stuff just wasn't there tonight. Tonight was definitely a tough one for me. I felt like every pitch was 10 pitches. I just felt so drained."
Ray (0-2) immediately got into trouble, surrendering one-out singles to Luis Valbuena and Matt LaPorta before Marte slammed a full-count slider into the left-field seats for a 4-2 Cleveland lead.
With two outs in the seventh, Moeller's second homer of the year got the Orioles within one. But Indians pinch-hitter Jamey Carroll's RBI single off Brian Bass in the eighth made it 5-3.
The Orioles took a 1-0 lead in the first, when Jones, returning after missing five games with back spasms, drew a two-out walk and scored on Nick Markakis' double to right. Cleveland tied it in the fourth, when Jhonny Peralta led off by lining a 2-1 Tillman pitch into the left-field stands for his 11th homer.
Pete Kerzel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.