BALTIMORE—The Orioles began the week trying to catch the Boston Red Sox for the American League East. After taking two of three in Boston, the Orioles came home trailing the Red Sox by just a game.
Three games later, the Orioles are three games behind Boston after two losses in three games to the last place Tampa Bay Rays. On
Saturday night, the Rays won 5-2 before 27,823 at Oriole Park.
The Orioles (81-67) are still very much in the wild card picture, but they need to beat Tampa Bay on Sunday and win at least three of four against the Red Sox in the series that begins Monday.
“Man, it’s not like we’re going out there playing against ourselves. We’re going out there playing against other major leaguers. You say what you want about the Rays and their standings, but they’ve got a formidable major league team over there They’re not just laying down, dying, quitting and just letting us win. So tip your caps to them for continuing their effort and their grind,” Adam Jones said.
Chris Tillman started for the second time since returning from three weeks on the disabled list for right shoulder soreness, and his performance wasn’t bad at all. It was just that the Orioles couldn’t do much with Matt Andriese.
After Tillman’s scoreless first inning, which broke Tampa Bay’s streak of six first inning homers against Orioles pitching, Jones led off with a double. He moved to third on Hyun Soo Kim’s infield out and scored on Manny Machado’s fly to right.
In the third, J.J. Hardy and Michael Bourn started the inning with singles. They both moved up on Jones’ infield out and scored on Kim’s fly to center.
Evan Longoria tripled past a sliding Bourn in right field with one out in the fourth and scored when Chris Davis elected to throw home on Brad Miller’s grounder. Longoria slid under Matt Wieters’ glove.
Longoria led off the sixth with his 35th home run, his third in as many nights, and the eighth he’s hit against Tillman. Miller followed with an infield single and moved to second on a wild pitch. He scored on Richie Shaffer’s two-out double.
“I thought it went OK. I feel like we did a pretty good job throughout, making pitches when we needed to. Just a couple swings beat us. They threw the ball better,” Tillman said.
Tillman (16-6) allowed three runs on four hits in 5 2/3 innings.
“Chris pitched pretty well as far as results. He gave us a good chance to win. We just didn’t do much against their pitching. We scored two runs. Andriese was pretty good. I thought Chris, usually second time out after a layoff you might have a little different result, but I thought if you look at the product as a whole, Chris gave us a chance there,” manager Buck Showalter said.
Andriese (8-7) who entered the game with an 0-3 record and a 9.24 ERA in five games against the Orioles, gave up two runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Dana Eveland, Chase Whitley and Alex Colome combined for 3 2/3 scoreless innings. Whitley (1-0) pitched the seventh and eighth for the win, and Colome picked up his 34th save.
Tampa Bay (64-84) scored two runs in the eighth. Davis booted Longoria’s ground ball, and with two outs, Steven Souza bunted for a base hit, and Oliver Drake walked Richie Shaffer.
Mikie Mahtook blooped a single just past Jonathan Schoop’s glove into short right field to score Longoria and Souza.
In 2011, Showalter’s Orioles were in the same position as Tampa Bay, trying to knock contending teams off, and they succeeded.
“You have a lot of young players trying to make their mark and make impressions. They’re playing with a lot of effort and a lot of looseness. That’s what I was talking about with Chris. If we scored six runs for instance, you’re talking about Chris with probably a six-inning outing and giving up three runs. It’s just we didn’t score many runs,” Showalter said.
“Right now they are throwing a little curveball into the standings with us and how they did with Toronto,” Jones said.
On Sunday, Wade Miley, who has an 8.41 ERA with the Orioles will try to beat Jake Odorizzi and salvage a split of the four-game series.
“It’s not necessarily a must win, but at this point in time of the year you need every W you can get. I think we have 14 left and at this point you can’t give games away. We’re not giving them away, but we’ve just go to go out there tomorrow, handle Odorizzi, get some runs early and let our starter settle in and bring in that bullpen,” Jones said.