The Orioles needed a win tonight to gain a home playoff game in Friday’s wild card round of the postseason. But they didn’t get it, as Evan Longoria homered three times and Jeremy Hellickson was the third straight Rays starter to shut down the Orioles in Tampa’s 4-1 victory.
With the loss, the Orioles now must play on the road Friday night at Texas in the AL Wild Card game at 8:37 p.m. Eastern time. Yu Darvish is expected to start that game for Texas. The Orioles could possibly go with Joe Saunders or maybe Steve Johnson, but no announcement has been made yet.
With the Yankees posting a big early lead versus Boston, it became apparent that the O’s chances at the division were dwindling and they would need a win tonight to be home Friday. Now an Orioles win Friday would advance them into an American League best-of-five division series against the Yankees. New York claimed the No. 1 seed for the AL playoffs with tonight’s 14-2 romp over Boston.
The Orioles ended the regular season at 93-69. That is 24 more wins than last year and the 15th most in team history. They will return to the playoffs for the first time since 1997, but fell short of their goals of winning the AL East and/or playing at home in the wild card round.
Longoria produced his second career three-homer game, hitting solo shots off Chris Tillman in the first and fourth and one off Jake Arrieta in the sixth. Ryan Roberts added a solo shot for the Rays, who finish the season at 90-72.
Tillman took the loss, allowing three runs and four hits over five innings. He is 9-3 with an ERA of 2.93 and took a loss for the first time since Aug. 11.
Hellickson gave up just one hit over 5 1/3 to end his year at 10-11 with an ERA of 3.10. Rays starters pitched 21 1/3 in this series, giving up just five hits and two runs with three walks to 28 strikeouts.
In the three games the O’s offense came up with just five runs on 11 hits. The Orioles were held to a total of five hits the past two nights.
So, this great Orioles regular season does end on a disappointing note. Now it’s on to the postseason and we find out if the Orioles can make a run deep into October. First they must get by Texas on the road in a one and done scenario.