CLEVELAND—The Orioles begin play Thursday night two games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays, who pulled out a 5-4 win over the Los Angeles Angels Thursday afternoon, scoring two runs in the bottom of the ninth.
“I was watching it,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We didn’t close it there in the ninth inning. I was hoping for defense there late. Tampa does what Tampa does, win those late games at home. I’ve seen it before.”
The Orioles’ magic number remains at 7. Any combination of Orioles wins and Rays losses gives Baltimore its first American League East title since 2014.
Unless the Orioles sweep the four-game series against the Cleveland Guardians and Tampa Bay is swept by Toronto in the three-game series that begins on Friday night, the AL East division title must be clinched at Camden Yards next week.
The Orioles play two games with Washington next Tuesday and Wednesday and conclude the home regular season with a four-game series against Boston. The September 30th game is sold out.
Waiting on Wells: Tyler Wells remains at Triple-A Norfolk. He was sent to Double-A Bowie on July 30th, and he’s been with the Baysox and Tides since.
On Wednesday night, Wells, who has a 9.00 earned-run average, allowed a run on two hits in 2/3 innings against Buffalo, striking out one.
“Sounded like the stuff was pretty good,” Hyde said. “That is encouraging. I know the line wasn’t good, but the stuff is ticking up a little bit. I think he’s definitely an option down the stretch.”
McKenna is back: Ryan McKenna was recalled again from Norfolk on Wednesday after Ryan Mountcastle was placed on the 10-day injured list.
Hyde is happy to have some outfield insurance.
“Mac adds a ton to our club,” Hyde said. “It’s not [just] the defensive versatility [at] all three spots in the outfield, now I’ve got, if he’s not in the lineup, another guy that can run off the bench, which is huge…It helps our versatility and makes us more athletic.”