BALTIMORE—Five games out with 11 to play. That’s the Orioles’ story.
After playing gallantly this season, the Orioles have fallen flat the last two nights against the Boston Red Sox and now face a gigantic deficit in the American League East.
The Orioles are five games behind the Boston after their 5-2 loss on Tuesday night before 20,387 at Oriole Park.
With 11 games left and two against the Red Sox, the Orioles (82-69) will need a miraculous finish to overtake Boston (87-74). The five-game deficit is the largest of the season.
The Orioles began the evening tied with Toronto for the first wild card, but they’ll have to stave off Detroit, Houston and Seattle to make sure they play in the Oct. 4 single-elimination game.
“It’s just math. We know how many opportunities there are and there’s still an opportunity for us. They are a good team, like all the teams are at this level, but especially a team having as good of a year as they are. It’s one thing to want to do it, as much as our guys want to, but you get a couple pitching performances against us like we’ve had the last two nights it’s a challenge,” manager Buck Showalter said.
Eduardo Rodriguez (3-7) became the second Boston starter in as many nights to retire the first 11 Orioles hitters, and he didn’t allow a hit until Trey Mancini hit a home run in his second major league at-bat in the fifth.
“It was a really special moment, something that I’ve definitely been waiting for my whole life. It was especially cool for my family. I didn’t say this before the game, but my grandfather was a 20-year season ticket holder here for the Orioles and today would’ve been his 79th birthday. He passed away four years ago, so I just found that out the other day that today would’ve been his birthday. That’s a big reason why it was so special and part of the reason why my mom so pumped out there to,” Mancini said.
Mancini became the third Oriole to hit a home run in his first major league game. Larry Haney (1966) and Jonathan Schoop (2013) are the others.
“It was cool that it broke up a no-hitter. I’m glad it could spark the offense a little bit there but the most important thing about tonight is that we lost the game and we’ve got to comeback these next two days and find a way to split this series because it’s a big one,” Mancini said.
Kevin Gausman (8-11) allowed five runs on 10 hits, equaling a career high, in 6 1/3 innings.
The destructive Mookie Betts didn’t homer, but had three singles and scored two runs. Betts scored the first run in the third when Hanley Ramirez hit into a force play. Betts is 16-for-31 (.516) in Baltimore this season with eight home runs.
Jackie Bradley’s 26th home run put Boston ahead 2-0 in the fourth, and David Ortiz slammed his 36th homer in the seventh, a three-run shot that put the Red Sox lead at 5-1.
Manager Buck Showalter didn’t even wait until Ortiz crossed home plate before removing Gausman, who broke a five-game winning streak.
“I was trying to go down and away. He’s a tough hitter, so I was trying to switch things up, go down and away. Was kind of going at him with fastballs in and fastballs up. The second at bat, I was trying to throw him a lot of splitters. I was trying to throw that pitch off the plate, and hoping he’d kind of go after it, but obviously he’s the hitter he is because he can do that with pitches like that,” Gausman said.
The Orioles scored in the bottom of the seventh on a double by Schoop who came home on a two-out infield single by J.J. Hardy.
Hyun Soo Kim followed Hardy’s hit with a single, but Adam Jones flied to deep center, ending the last Orioles threat.
Rodriguez allowed two runs on four hits in 6 1/3 innings.
Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 28th save.
Fortunately for the Orioles, there are two more games left in the series, and if they win both, they’ll be three games behind Boston, which is where they were when the series began.
“We have to win and everything else will take care of itself. When it comes down to it, yeah it's nice when we get a win and some of the teams that we're chasing or are chasing us lose, or visa versa. But first and foremost we have to focus on winning, and the rest will take care of itself,” Matt Wieters said.
NOTE: Clay Buchholz (7-10, 5.20) faces Ubaldo Jimenez (7-11, 5.94) on Wednesday night.