BALTIMORE—At the worst time possible, the Orioles have lost four straight games and their lead in the American League East.
The Orioles, who lost four in a row from June 27th-July 1st, took first place on July 19th. In the last six days, they have lost a four-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays.
After a sellout crowd of 43,359 at Oriole Park cheered on the official retirement of Adam Jones and the presence of many of the star players he played with during his 11 years with the Orioles, his old team lost to the Rays, 7-1, on Friday night.
The Orioles (91-56) led the Rays by four games last Saturday. They lost the final two games against St. Louis and have lost the first two of four games against Tampa Bay (92-57) to fall into a tie for first.
With their magic number remaining at four, the Orioles can still capture the season series from the Rays with a win in one of the final two games. That’s important because if the teams ended the regular season tied, the tiebreaker is the record in head-to-head games.
The Orioles, who were no-hit for the last 4 2/3 innings on Thursday night, had just two hits. They had only one baserunner in the first five innings. Gunnar Henderson led off with a grounder to third that was mishandled by Tampa Bay third baseman Isaac Paredes for an error. Henderson was thrown out at second for the third out after Anthony Santander grounded to first.
Heston Kjerstad, who struck out in his first major league at-bat on Thursday night, homered against Tampa Bay starter Zach Eflin (15-8). Eflin struck out eight and didn’t walk a batter in seven innings.
Brandon Lowe hit his 20th home run to lead off the fourth against Oriole starter Jack Flaherty (8-9) and Manuel Margot’s RBI single gave Tampa Bay a 2-0 lead.
Flaherty was pulled after René Pinto and Wandy Diaz singled to start the fifth. Lowe’s sacrifice fly made it 3-0.
Josh Lowe and Margot doubled against DL Hall, making it 4-0. Taylor Walls reached on a bunt single, and Harold Ramirez hit a three-run home run, punctuated by a bat flip, against Bryan Baker to make it 7-0.
Notes: Manager Brandon Hyde said that first baseman Ryan Mountcastle is improving and could return soon. Mountcastle left Wednesday night’s game with left shoulder discomfort. … Closer Félix Bautista played catch again before the game. … Triple-A Norfolk right-hander Chayce McDermott didn’t make his scheduled start because of lower back discomfort. … Minor league reliever Noah Denoyer had Tommy John surgery. … Grayson Rodriguez (5-4, 4.88) will face Tyler Glasnow (9-5, 3.15) on Saturday night. … The Orioles have had five sellouts this season.