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Orioles plan on taking another power trip to AL playoffs

Orioles plan on taking another power trip to AL playoffs

BALTIMORE -- The Baltimore Orioles have found a formula for success, and they're sticking with it.

Hit the long ball, play solid defense, close out the game with your outstanding bullpen. For three of the past five years -- including last season -- that's gotten the Orioles into the playoffs.

That's the plan for 2017, too.

With defending major league home run champ Mark Trumbo, slugger Chris Davis and hard-hitting Manny Machado leading the way, Baltimore hopes to have enough power to compensate for a starting rotation that lacks depth and experience.

Former first-round picks Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy stand atop a rotation that will start the season without ace Chris Tillman, who's nursing a shoulder injury that will keep him on the disabled list through opening day. Right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez (8-12, 5.44 ERA) and lefty Wade Miley (9-13, 5.37) are coming off lackluster seasons, and if they don't rebound the Orioles might find themselves in a whole lot of high-scoring games.

If that's the case, then Baltimore will need another prolific season from a lineup that led the majors in long balls and had five starters hit at least 25 home runs.

Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette brought back Trumbo as a free agent during the offseason after doing the same with Davis one year earlier. Why bother with bunts and stolen bases when you can get three runs with one swing of a bat?

"That's the way we like it," manager Buck Showalter said. "It fits us perfect."

If Baltimore's starters can keep the game close for six or seven innings, the bullpen can win it. All-Star closer Zach Britton was brilliant last season, compiling a 0.54 ERA and converting every one of his 47 save opportunities while operating behind standout setup men Brad Brach and Darren O'Day.

Quite by design, this team looks very much like the one that went 89-73 last year.

"That's really nice when you walk in for a new season to have a lot of the same group," Davis said. "And not only the same group, but a lot of guys have been together for five and six years."

MORE ORIOLES: Zach Britton hopes to duplicate great 2016 season

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Wade Miley roughed up again, Orioles shut out in St. Pete

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USA Today Sports

Wade Miley roughed up again, Orioles shut out in St. Pete

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Evan Longoria and Logan Morrison homered Friday night and the Tampa Bay Rays clinched third place in the AL East with a 7-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.

Longoria led off the fifth with his 20th homer off Baltimore starter Wade Miley, marking Longoria's fifth straight 20-homer season and the ninth of his 10-year career.

RELATED: WILD CARD RACES WITH THREE DAYS REMAINING

Morrison hit his 38th homer off reliever Chris Tillman in the seventh.

Rays starter Jake Odorizzi left his final start of the season after four innings with a sore right knee.

Brad Boxberger (4-4) got the win as the first of four Tampa Bay relievers.

Miley (8-15) lost his fifth straight start, giving up four runs and five hits in four innings. He walked five, raising his major league-leading total to 93. The Baltimore bullpen gave up five more walks.

Trey Mancini had one of Baltimore's four hits. It was Mancini's 158th hit, tying Cal Ripken (1982) for second-place all-time among Oriole rookies.

The Orioles, shut out for the 11th time, lost for the 17th time in 21 games and dropped three games behind Tampa Bay with two games left in the season.

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MLB Wild Card Standings: Projecting the standings with three days left

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USA TODAY Sports

MLB Wild Card Standings: Projecting the standings with three days left

With the MLB postseason only five days away and three more days in the regular season the playoff field is almost set.

After Thursday night’s action, the St. Louis Cardinals were eliminated from the second Wild Card spot in the National League. Their 2-1 loss to the Cubs put them too far out of reach of the Rockies.

In the American League the AL East race is all but done after the Yankees lost on Thursday.

RELATED: NEW MLB BRACKET PROJECTION WITH ONE WEEK TO GO

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Not too many changes in the American League race after yesterday.

The New York Yankees (89-70) lost to the Tampa Bay Rays 9-6 at home after entering the day only three games back in the division. While the Boston Red Sox (92-67) lost too, three games to surpass is too much for even the Bronx Bombers to overcome.

It will be interesting though to watch both teams sweat. Boston hosts the Houston Astros who are trying to overtake the Indians for the top seed in the AL. New York hosts division rivals Toronto.

The Minnesota Twins (83-76) lost to the Indians after allowing 10 hits in the contest. Win or lose it does not matter how they end the season because they will be the No. 5 seed and the visitors in the American League Wild Card Game. Presumably it will be against the Yankees.

AL WILD CARD RACE (AS OF SEPT 29):

New York Yankees:     +6.0 
Minnesota Twins:           ---
 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Colorado was off on Thursday night in preparation for their final series of the year against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Milwaukee Brewers (84-75) did manage to gain a half game with their nail biting 4-3 win over the Reds. Brett Phillips hit a go-ahead double in the sixth inning and the final three frames remained scoreless for both squads.

They now move to two games back of the Colorado Rockies (86-73) with three games to go.

Colorado will host their final series against the Dodgers. Milwaukee is traveling to the St. Louis Cardinals (82-77) for their final three games. St. Louis is now out of contention, four games out of the final Wild Card spot.

FanGraphs.com now has Colorado at a 93.3 percent chance of taking the final postseason spot.  Milwaukee moved up slightly to 6.7 percent.

MORE NATS: WALK-OFF FOR THE NATS, COURTESY OF DE AZA

NL WILD CARD RACE (AS OF SEPT 29):

#4 Arizona Diamondbacks:  +6.0
Colorado Rockies:                   ---
Milwaukee Brewers:              -2.0