It really sucks when you have to feel awful about your team as they head to the playoffs. If the Orioles had won tonight, they would have guaranteed themselves home-field advantage in the wild card game. Everyone knew it would be tough; the Rays are a good team and Jeremy Hellickson a good pitcher. But I don't think many people expected them to look so awful at the plate for a second night in a row. Instead, they ended up with just three hits on the night, leading to a quiet loss to the Rays, 4-1.
I was happy to have Chris Tillman on the mound tonight in this must-win (if you want to start the postseason at home) game. He's been great lately, and I thought he'd give the Orioles their best shot. Well, he wasn't great tonight. He wasn't terrible, but he left a few too many pitches out over the plate, especially when Evan Longoria was up to bat.
In the bottom of the first inning, Tillman gave up the lead via the first of Longoria's three home runs for the night (spoiler!). It's no shame to give up a homer to a player like Longoria, but it wasn't exactly a great pitch either.
Hellickson didn't waste any time in making the O's hitters look bad, as he retired the first eleven batters he faced. The twelfth batter, Chris Davis, struck out, but reached on a wild pitch to extend the inning. That opened the door for Adam Jones, who got the first hit of the game, putting runners on the corners with two outs. But Matt Wieters couldn't bring them home. All he did was ground out to end the inning.
Tillman had pretty much kept the Rays off the base paths until the fourth, when Longoria led off the inning with his second home run of the night, making the score 2-0. After Mike Joyce struck out, Tillman gave up another homer, this one to Ryan Roberts.
The Orioles finally got another baserunner in the sixth inning as Manny Machado worked a walk with no outs, but he was stranded. Hellickson came out of the game with one out in the sixth in favor of Jake McGee, who as far as I can tell is the best pitcher in the history of baseball.
Jake Arrieta replaced Tillman in the sixth inning, and he picked up right were Tilly left off, giving up a one-out home run to Longoria. Geez, Evan! Stop being so good!
With a four-run lead going into the ninth inning, the Rays sent Joel Peralta out, and it was only then that the Orioles were able to make some noise. Hardy led off the inning with a double, then went to third base on defensive indifference. After Chris Davis struck out, Adam Jones hit a fly ball to center field and Hardy came in to score. I don't really know what the point of him running was, unless it was just so they didn't get shut out. Is there such a thing as an FUSF?
The FUSF was the second out, but Wieters kept things alive with the O's third hit of the game. Since that made it officially a save situation, Fernando Rodney came in and all hope was lost. He struck out Jim Thome to end the game.
So that's it for the regular season, friends! We have an off day tomorrow, and then the Orioles will head to Texas to take on the Rangers in the one-game playoff.