BALTIMORE — They met at a fundraiser during the offseason, Brandon Guyer the major-league baseball player and Mathias Giordano, the 13-year-old battling cancer.
Guyer promised to treat Giordano to a baseball game at Camden Yards, and that day came Friday during the first game of a day/night doubleheader between the Rays and the Orioles.
Giordano, who lost a leg during his fight with cancer, asked Guyer if he could get a hit.
Guyer said he would try.
Guyer then delivered three times with doubles to left field as the Rays reached the midpoint of the season with a 5-2 victory against the Orioles.
The second half began with another loss, this time 4-1.
“You’ll always take a split in a day/night doubleheader,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “But after winning the first one, you get greedy.”
Jake Odorizzi pitched in and out of trouble for five innings in the nightcap, stranding nine runners and leaving the bases loaded in the second and fifth innings.
“It was an all-around bad experience out there,” Odorizzi said. “It was uncomfortable. I couldn’t find my spot, couldn’t get back in a swing of things. It was a battle from pitch one.”
Yet he kept the Rays in the game until the bullpen gave it away. Juan Carlos Oviedo allowed a solo home run to Nick Hundley in the sixth, and Joel Peralta allowed a two-run homer to Nelson Cruz in the seventh.
The Rays finished the season’s first half at 33-48, their worst record through 81 games since 2007, when the franchise playing its last year as the “Devil” Rays had the same mark at the same point.
Perhaps it was for that reason the big scoreboard in right-center field kept listing the visiting team during the first few innings of Game 1 as the Tampa Bay “Devil” Rays.
“That’s motivation, baby,” Maddon said. “I hate to disappoint. I didn’t even notice.”
Guyer’s first double came in the second inning and scored James Loney from first base to tie the score at 1. Matt Joyce singled home Guyer to put the Rays ahead.
Guyer’s second double of the game started a two-run sixth for the Rays.
It was the first time in his big-league career that Guyer doubled three times in one game. Those hits raised Guyer’s batting average to .436 during his past 10 starts, which is impressive since a 22-day stay on the disabled list with a fracture in his left thumb is included in that span.
Guyer wasn’t too worried the layoff would ruin his momentum at the plate. He proved that by hitting well during his rehab stint at Triple-A Durham.
“I still didn’t feel like I did before I got hurt. I still don’t feel like I’m all the way there,” he said. “I’m kind of searching for it. (Friday) was a good day, but I know I got some tinkering to do, some minor adjustments to make to get to where I feel like I’m really driving the ball like I was before I got hurt.”
Maddon said Guyer is playing with more confidence than during his earlier stints with the Rays.
“He’s just a different cat,” Maddon said.
Guyer’s Game 1 day at the plate helped support rookie Alex Colome, who was called up from Durham to make the start against the Orioles. Both teams were able to expand their rosters to 26 because of the doubleheader, and Colome made the most of his opportunity.
Colome held the Orioles to a run on two hits over 52⁄3 innings.
Guyer hits well at Camden Yards, which is a 45-minute drive from where he grew up and still lives in northern Virginia.
“It’s always good to see family and friends,” Guyer said.
Among that large group Friday afternoon was Giordano and his family.
“We weren’t able to get him out the first time we were here this season, so we made it a point to get him out sometime this weekend,” Guyer said. “I’m glad it worked out.”