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BALTIMORE—Two years ago, the Orioles lost 110 games. Now, they’re going to the postseason for the first time since 2016.
The Orioles beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-4, in 11 exhausting innings before 37,297 at Camden Yards. While the game was in the ninth inning, they learned they had qualified for the playoffs because Texas lost to Cleveland, 9-2.
Cedric Mullins’ sacrifice fly to center scored the automatic runner, Adley Rutschman, and the Orioles had a hard-fought, four-game split with the Rays.
The Orioles (93-56) are two games ahead of Tampa Bay (92-59) in the American League East, just where they were when the series began.
DL Hall (2-0) pitched the 11th for the win.
“I thought we were going to be a good team,” manager Brandon Hyde said before the game. “I thought last year we were disrespected going into this year just from where we were from projections, smart people thinking they know what the records are going to be at the end of the year, casinos etc.
“I thought we were underappreciated. Everybody thought we were going to have a setback this year. I want our players to be offended by that, the guys that were here last year.“
Oriole starter Dean Kremer allowed a one-out home run to Brandon Lowe in the first, and the Orioles tied it against Zack Littell in the fourth on a one-out double by Ryan O’Hearn and a two-out RBI single by Austin Hays.
Danny Coulombe came in for Kremer after Yandy Diaz walked in the sixth. After he retired the three batters he faced. Jorge López came in with one out in the seventh. López retired two batters to end the seventh and got an out in the eighth before Tristan Gray hit his first major league home run. Christian Bethancourt followed with another home and the Orioles trailed, 3-1.
Tampa Bay starter Zack Littell was lifted after 4 2/3 innings with the score tied at 1. Colin Poche retired all four batters he faced. Robert Stephenson gave up a two-out single to Adam Frazier.
Pete Fairbanks allowed a two-out home run to Rutschman in the bottom of the eighth, his 19th, to move the Orioles within a run, 3-2.
In the bottom of the ninth, Fairbanks struck out Ryan O’Hearn and retired Mullins on a grounder to second. Hays singled, and pinch-runner Jorge Mateo scored on Frazier’s double to tie it at 3 after nine.
Manuel Margot, the automatic runner at second, scored thanks to two ground outs. Harold Ramirez’s chopper was fielded by Yennier Cano as Margot crossed the plate.
Rutschman’s two-out single against Shawn Armstrong in the bottom of the 10th tied it at 4.
Notes: Closer Félix Bautista threw 20-25 pitches in a bullpen session. “It sounds like it went pretty well. That was the next step in his throwing progression,” Hyde said. “We’ll see how he feels tomorrow. We’re taking it day-by-day with him right now.” Hyde is encouraged but cautioned: “It’s still a long process back. He still has to face hitters and throw more sides, but for him to go throw a throwing progression and feel good after playing catch and his first side, that’s important. … First baseman Ryan Mountcastle is still out with left shoulder soreness. Hyde said he was feeling better. “Tried to swing yesterday. I guess that didn’t go great. He’s going to go out and swing in the cage right now and, hopefully, he’s feeling better and he can be an option for us off the bench.” Hyde said Mountcastle won’t be placed on the 10-day injured list. … John Means (0-1, 5.40) will face Justin Verlander (11-8, 3.40) on Monday night at 8:10 when the Orioles begin a three-game series at Houston. The Orioles haven’t listed starters for Tuesday or Wednesday. … Double-A Bowie’s final scheduled game of the season at Harrisburg was rained out. The Baysox end their season with a 67-70 record. .,, Cole Irvin allowed five runs on seven hits in 3 2/3 innings as Triple-A Norfolk lost to Memphis, 7-1.
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