ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - No matter how much today's game at Tropicana Field was dissected, the main points kept coming back to Rays starter Alex Cobb.
The man was dealing.
"He was tough," said left fielder Nate McLouth following a 5-1 loss to the Rays. "You see what he does. He throws a lot of breaking balls, split-finger or changeups, whatever it is. And he's real effective. He was pretty much unhittable.
"With that split-finger, he can get so much weak contact and he's got pitches to put you away with, so you go up there wanting to get him early, but the ball moves so much, it's hard to make good contact with it. Kind of reminded me of the game (James) Shields pitched against us last year."
The Orioles weren't using last night's 18-inning game as an excuse, though a lingering fatigue was evident. The Rays endured it too, and responded with their second win of the series.
"There was nobody on that field who wasn't feeling that game last night, but (Cobb) did have an effect on the outcome, and that's the main thing," McLouth said. "But certainly, everybody on that field was a little tired."
The Orioles aren't panicked, but the sense of urgency keeps growing.
"Yeah, for sure," McLouth said. "The thing is, if we win both of them, we're right back where we started when we got here. If we're able to do that, it starts tomorrow."
Is that comforting or frustrating?
"You can look at it both ways, but I choose, and probably everybody in here, would choose to look at it on the positive side," McLouth said.
"We've got eight more games after this, and we've just got to keep grinding," said losing pitcher Miguel Gonzalez. "It's tough. It's tough losing two games, especially last night, coming in the day before real late, but we battled. You've just got to tip your hat to those guys. They played a great game."
Gonzalez was satisfied with his performance except for the two walks that preceded Desmond Jenning's three-run homer in the fifth.
"I felt great out there," he said. "The groin didn't bother me at all, so that was important. Alex Cobb did a really good job. You've got to tip your hat to him. And Desmond Jennings, I've just got to minimize the walks. I think that's really important, especially late in the game.
"I put myself in a bad situation. Can't be doing that, especially late in the game. I thought it was a good pitch, but you've just got to tip your hat.
"I made some bad pitches, left a couple balls up, but I was happy about my performance today."
It's the outcome that led to another quiet clubhouse. No music, no televisions tuned to college football, only the realization that the season is slipping away.
Note: The Rays finally announced their starter for Sunday afternoon's game against the Orioles. They've chosen left-hander Enny Romero, who will be making his major league debut.
Romero was 11-7 with a 2.76 ERA in 27 starts at Double-A Montgomery. He made one start at Triple-A Durham and tossed eight shutout innings against Norfolk.
Jeremy Hellickson was scheduled to start on Sunday until being used in relief Friday night.