The Orioles won’t post another winning record in 2017. They won’t finish at .500. The last flicker of hope for a berth in the wild card game has disappeared.
The remaining goal is to stay out of last place and stay healthy.
Jeremy Hellickson retired the first eight batters he faced before surrendering a three-run homer to Lucas Duda in the third inning, the bullpen couldn’t keep the game close and the Orioles’ five-run rally in the ninth only narrowed the margin in a 9-6 loss to the Rays before an announced crowd of 42,802 at Camden Yards.
With 14 losses in their last 17 games, the Orioles have fallen to 74-82 overall and 45-35 at home. They’re 2 1/2 games behind the third-place Rays and 1 1/2 ahead of the Blue Jays, who also lost today.
The 2011 team at 69-93 was the last to finish with a losing record, with manager Buck Showalter in his first full season. The Orioles won the wild card game in Texas the following year.
The 2015 team won its last five games to go 81-81. The Orioles returned to the playoffs last season, losing the wild card game in Toronto.
With the Twins winning earlier tonight, the Orioles have been eliminated from the race. We’ll find out how it impacts the rotation and lineups moving forward.
Welington Castillo stroked an RBI double in the ninth, Austin Hays plated two more with a double, Manny Machado bounced a run-scoring single into left field and Chris Davis delivered a two-out RBI single. Alex Colomé replaced Tommy Hunter, who replaced Chase Whitley, and Trey Mancini flied to right.
The first six batters collected hits and the Orioles sent 10 batters to the plate, but the Rays had too much of a cushion.
Showalter removed Hellickson after six innings with the Orioles behind 3-1. The veteran right-hander allowed four hits, walked one and struck out four. Tonight marked his fifth quality start in 10 outings since the trade and he’s registered a 6.97 ERA.
The Rays scored two unearned runs off Richard Bleier in the seventh, with Machado and Hays committing errors. Hays made a sensational running, leaping catch against the wall to rob Adeiny Hechavarria and prevent further damage.
Logan Morrison led off the ninth with a home run off Mike Wright, who allowed four runs and five hits and retired only one batter in the inning. The rally that followed shined a brighter spotlight on the outing.
Hellickson had clean innings in the first, second and fourth, induced a double play ball to end the fifth after a leadoff walk and watched Castillo throw out Kevin Kiermaier trying to steal in the sixth after a leadoff single. He recorded the first two outs in the third before singles by Hechavarria and Kiermaier. Duda got ahead 3-0, took a strike, fouled off four pitches and lined a 90 mph fastball onto the flag court in right field.
A 1-0 lead went with it.
Duda was 7-for-14 with two home runs lifetime against Hellickson before tonight. It wasn’t a fluke.
Jake Odorizzi allowed an unearned run and three hits and struck out nine batters over six innings.
The Orioles scored with two outs in the first on Jonathan Schoop’s double, Adam Jones’ infield hit and Duda’s throwing error. Duda flipped the ball behind Odorizzi covering the bag and Schoop raced home.
Machado flied to the right field warning track to strand Castillo in the fifth. Hays and Beckham struck out against reliever Andrew Kittredge to strand two in the seventh. A five-run ninth showed there’s still life in this team.
What it needs is more time and wins.
Notes: Castillo has thrown out 24 of 49 runners attempting to steal.
Mancini extended his career-high hitting streak to 13 games with a leadoff single in the seventh. He singled again in the ninth.
Left-hander Tanner Scott replaced Wright in the ninth and retired both batters he faced on a strikeout and fly ball.
Showalter on rally: “We didn’t do much offensively. We got a gift in the first inning and obviously Odorizzi is good and I’m always going to give them credit, but we’ve been struggling offensively obviously. To mount something there and put a lot together and get the tying run to the plate, I think you probably could have taken a lot of bets. That was good to see.”
On Hellickson: “Good. He gave us a good chance to win. Solid. Ninety, 91, whatever pitch, that’s where we were hoping to take him. Gave us a good chance to win. We just ... He deserved probably a little better fate. It was good to see him rebound from his last outing.”
On Beckham’s hamstring: “Didn’t feel a pop. He’s had similar - I’m not going to get into all the terms Richie just used, knowing the history a little bit. I’d say doubtful for tomorrow, but I’m hoping we caught it before it turned into something that would end his season. But we’ll see. Couple off-days coming up, believe it or not.”
On Hays’ catch: “That’s as good as you’ll see. Timing had to be just right to get out of it with all your teeth. A lot of tough plays. The last ball he caught may have looked ... When a right-hander hits a ball that way with the spin, the ball actually comes back at the end. Same thing happened to Trey off a left-handed bat. These are two young inexperienced up here guys who are learning these things on the job that sometimes once you draw a bead on it you’ve got to slow down and know that ...
“So many things that guys do up here. Hitters impart more backspin and side spin because they have more bat speed. The balls go through the infield a half-count quicker, they’re a half-step faster down the line. The speed of the game and the things happen at a faster pace.
“I was talking to Austin the other day and always ask him, ‘What do you see, what are you feeling, what caught you by surprise and what hasn’t?’ And one of the things he talks about is the speed of the game. It’s just, things happen faster, whether it’s throws, whether it’s runners, whether it’s pitchers, whether it’s sliders. It’s a different pace of game and that’s a common thing you heard from young players.”
On losing record and being out of playoffs: “I had told somebody that if that happens to let me know and I’d address it then. That’s something I’ll have to look at now. I haven’t looked at any of that stuff. We’ve all been tunnel vision, trying to win as many games in a row as we can and see where it takes us. So, if that is the case - I’m sure I don’t need to check your math - I’ve tried to stay to stay out of that mentality. If that is the case we’ll readdress where we are.”