ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The Orioles didn't arrive in Tampa until around 3 a.m. on Friday. They played an 18-inning game that night. They have a 1:05 p.m. game today.
Sleep fast - if they can sleep at all.
The Orioles are 2 1/2 games back and tied with the Royals in the wild card race. Last night's defeat, which became official on David DeJesus' walk-off single, was quite the dagger.
Are their playoff hopes dead? Absolutely not. But the degree of difficulty in getting there has been raised substantially.
Manager Buck Showalter circulated through the clubhouse after last night's game - which actually became this morning's game - and kept calling out to players, "Don't get here before 11 a.m." He ducked into the shower area and repeated it.
Showalter won't start Matt Wieters behind the plate. He will check on other regulars and decide which ones need to sit. None of them will volunteer to do it.
Wieters probably will try to talk his way into the lineup. He won't succeed.
The Orioles need innings from Miguel Gonzalez, but that's not enough. They need quality innings. They need a bullpen that never stopped stirring last night to step up again.
They desperately need to win.
A few leftovers from last night/this morning:
The Orioles and Rays threw a combined 593 pitches, including 292 by the visiting team.
The 28 players used by the Rays is a club record.
Tampa Bay clinched the season series, going 4-3 at Tropicana Field and 6-2 at Camden Yards.
The Orioles still need a victory to guarantee their second straight winning season.
Chris Davis has committed errors in his last two games. He had two errors in his previous 96.
Manny Machado, at 21 years and 76 days, became the youngest Oriole to bat leadoff since Eugene Kingsale (20 years, 26 days) on Sept. 15, 1996.
Jason Hammel has allowed first-inning runs in four of his last five starts. He's permitted 16 runs in the first inning this season for a 5.87 ERA.
Did Hammel make his last start for the Orioles? Showalter keeps tweaking the rotation, in part because of injuries to Gonzalez and Bud Norris. Who knows whether Hammel will stay in it or move to the bullpen.
Hammel is a free agent after the season, and I'd be surprised if the Orioles re-sign him. But that's another topic for another day.
I didn't agree with the decision to remove Hammel after five innings and 77 pitches. He had retired 12 of the last 14 batters. Games with the Rays tend to go past regulation. Try to squeeze another inning out of him, with someone ready in the bullpen in case he falters.
Just my opinion.
Sorry, but no Tsuyoshi Wada.
Belfiore has been recalled twice and optioned without appearing in a game - once on the same day (June 7). He's still waiting to make his major league debut.