➔ See how BaltimoreBaseball.com can help your business.
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.
“It’s just disappointing to lose now,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “It was a great crowd. That was really cool. That was a great ceremony pregame. It was fun for our players to watch that. Good to see the guys that were here, his teammates. That was a lot of fun.”
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.
“We’re in a little bit of a team funk offensively,” Hyde said.
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.
“Every team goes through ups and downs,” Adley Rutschman said. “We’re going to learn from today and continue to make adjustments.”
Heston Kjerstad, who struck out in his first major league at-bat on Thursday night, homered against Tampa Bay starter Zach Eflin (15-8).
“That was surreal,” Kjerstad said. “I wanted to get the first hit out of the way, and to have it be a homer and to see it go out of the yard, it’s truly amazing. It’s truly something you dream of. It was really awesome to be able to experience that.”
Tampa Bay starter Zach Eflin (15-8) struck out eight and didn’t walk a batter in seven innings.
“I don’t think he threw a ball where he didn’t want to the entire night,” Hyde said. “He pretty much carved us up.”
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.
“They put good swings on the ball, and that’s what they do,” said Flahert, who’s confident the Orioles will rebound. “I’ve only been here for a month and some change. They’ve been good all year for a reason. Every team is going to go through it at some point, and you remember who you are and how you got to this point.”
Flaherty was pulled after René Pinto and Wandy Diaz singled to start the fifth. Lowe’s sacrifice fly made it 3-0.
“The first few innings went OK on the mound and defensively. Starting with the fourth there, it didn’t go our way,” Hyde said.
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.
“Nobody said this was going to be easy,” Hyde said. “These things happen. You’ve just got to stay positive, and tomorrow’s a new day. We still have a lot of baseball left.”
Notes: 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. …Tampa Bay relievers have a streak of 36 scoreless innings.
Minor league update: Tyler Wells allowed three runs on three hits, and retired just two batters as Triple-A Norfolk lost to Memphis, 13-4. Joey Krehbiel allowed six runs on four hits while recording just two outs. Coby Mayo hit his 11th home run.
Ryan Long (3-3) pitched four scoreless innings in relief as Double-A Bowie beat Harrisburg, 5-4.
RAVENS LINKS FROM BALTIMORESPORTS.COM