BALTIMORE—Just before play resumed at 10:59 p.m., the Orioles announced the attendance for Thursday’s game as 8,153. As a reward for waiting out a two-hour, 16-minute rain delay, the 200 or so fans who remained could sit in any unoccupied seat.
For a fan who was visiting Oriole Park for the first time or a regular, snagging a front-row seat was a special, and the fans were treated to intimacies they don’t usually experience.
In the end, the Orioles were competitive with the Tampa Bay Rays, a team locked in a tight skirmish for a wild-card spot, but just not good enough.
The Orioles dropped a 5-2 decision to the Rays in a game that didn’t end until 12:53 a.m.
Tampa Bay leads the season series, 9-4. The Orioles have six more games left with the Rays, three this weekend and on September 2-4 at St. Petersburg, Florida.
With the loss, the Orioles fell to 41-87.
“It’s not easy, but you play this long, you’re used to those types of situations,” manager Brandon Hyde said of the delay. “We are in the big leagues. We have a nice clubhouse that you can hang out in, so it’s not an excuse for coming out flat.”
Hanser Alberto led off the first with a grounder to short. Tampa Bay’s Willy Adames threw it wildly to first for an error. Trey Mancini’s double scored Alberto, but as Mancini pulled into third, the throw from Adames went wild, and Mancini came home, too.
Tampa Bay starter Ryan Yarbrough retired 11 straight Orioles after Renato Nunez singled with one out in the first.
Asher Wojciechowski gave up Austin Meadows’ 22nd home run with two outs in the third. It was the 259th home run allowed by Orioles pitching this season, a major league record.
“I’m a broken record when it comes to homers we’ve given up,” Hyde said. “I don’t know what to say except we have a lot of work to do with our pitchers. And going forward to be able to compete in this division and in the big leagues, you have to be able to keep the ball in the ballpark and we’ve had a tough time doing that this year. “
Wojciechowski allowed Adames’ 16th home run to tie the score at 2 with one out in the fifth. After throwing 96 pitches in five innings, Wojciechowski wouldn’t have pitched the sixth inning even if there hadn’t been a delay
“I kept us in the game,” Wojciechowski said. “We had a two-run lead. It’s pretty frustrating give up those two solo home runs, but I kept us in the game. They gave me tough at-bats all night. They really laid off some good sliders, some good pitches that I would have liked to get swings and misses at. They were disciplined at the plate tonight and drove my pitch count up.”
DJ Stewart led off the bottom of the second with a double, and after Stevie Wilkerson’s pop to second, the game was delayed with Jace Peterson at-bat.
Former Oriole Oliver Drake took the mound when play finally resumed. Drake struck out Peterson and retired Alberto on a grounder to the mound.
Adames’ two-run single against Miguel Castro In the sixth put Tampa Bay ahead 4-2. Castro was charged with the loss. Drake was awarded the win.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Orioles got two on against Drake, but didn’t score. An inning later, Colin Poche hit Wilkerson and Peterson with pitches, but Chaz Roe stranded them.
Paul Fry gave up just one hit in two shutout innings.
In the bottom of the eighth, Anthony Santander walked against Jose Alvarado and Renato Nunez singled. Richie Martin, who didn’t start because of a sore hand, ran for Nunez.
Jonathan Villar grounded out to third, and both runners moved up. Nick Anderson ended the threat by getting Rio Ruiz and Stewart to pop up.
“Any time we can get guys on, we want to drive them in,” Stewart said. “I didn’t do my job in that last inning, had two guys on, two outs, and couldn’t get it done.”
Gabriel Ynoa’s wild pitch allowed Meadows to score in the ninth to put Tampa Bay in front 5-2.
Emilio Pagan pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his 14th save. The Orioles had just two hits in 4 2/3 innings against six Tampa Bay relievers.
“They have really good pitching and they have really good relievers,” Hyde said. “Yarbrough is an outstanding pitcher and has pitched tough against us other times we faced him. Their relievers all throw 95 and up and pitch at the top of the zone and down below the knees. They make it hard on you. We just didn’t get much going offensively, but we did have our chances late in the game. Just didn’t get the big hit.”