The 2012 regular season came to an end Wednesday night inTampa, as the Rays, behind three home runs from star third baseman Evan Longoria, beat the Orioles 4-1. The Orioles did not win the American League East here in 2012 (though Wednesday’s game is not to blame. The Yankees pounded the sorry Boston Red Sox 14-2 to clinch that title). The O’s did not win the top Wild Card seed either (a win Wednesday would have done that for them, and assured them of home field advantage in the one-game playoff withTexas).
The Orioles managed just three hits in this one, and just one off of Rays starter Jeremay Hellickson (W, 10-11). The Rays, meanwhile, scored all four of their runs on solo homers, three off of O’s starter Chris Tillman (L, 9-3), and one off of Jake Arrieta in his one inning of relief.
Tillman lost for the first time since August 11. It’s not that the young O’s righthander—perhaps the biggest individual surprise in an Orioles season that’s seen more surprises than a magician on a Christmas Eve bender—pitched poorly (5IP, 4H, 5K, 3BB, 3HR). In previous seasons, who wouldn’t have taken that line from Tillman every time out? But this is Tillman 2.0, and for Tillman 2.0, Wednesday night’s performance—especially with so much on the line—has to go down as a bit of a disappointment.
The Orioles didn’t get on the board until the ninth. JJ Hardy led off with his 30th double of the year, and took third on defensive indifference. One out later, Adam Jones tacked on to his 82nd RBI of 2012 with a sac fly, making it 4-1.
The Orioles now head toTexasto take on the team that scored the most runs in baseball (808). The Orioles were 1-2 inTexasthis year, and 1-3 at home against the Rangers. The Orioles will battle Yu Darvish (16-9, 3.90) for the first time ever. Either Joe Saunders (3-3, 3.63/9-13, 4.07) or Steve Johnson (4-0, 2.11) is expected to go for the Orioles. The winner of the game (Friday night at 8:30) faces the Yankees in a best-of-five series.
- Playoffs, and 93 wins, 24 more than 2011.
- The matchup against the Rangers doesn’t look good on paper. Josh Hamilton and Esteban Beltre have both had huge days off the O’s.