Orioles season on the line vs. the Rays
BOSTON – The Orioles came into Fenway Park looking to sweep the Boston Red Sox on Thursday. Instead, they were nearly no-hit.
John Lackey allowed just two hits in throwing a complete game, and dealt the Orioles a 3-1 loss before 36,435.
The Orioles now trail Tampa Bay and Texas, who are tied for the wild-card lead, by two games. They’re 1 ½ games behind Cleveland. After winning two of three games against the Red Sox, who clinched a postseason spot with the win, the Orioles hoped for a sweep.
“Who cares about getting two out of three? At this point in time, winning the series means nothing. We need wins is all. Good job getting the series if this was June, but it’s September. We need wins,” Adam Jones said.
Lackey (10-12) didn’t allow a hit until there was one out in the seventh when Jones parked his 32nd home run, equaling his career high, into the left field stands.
J.J. Hardy had the Orioles other hit, an eighth-inning single. Lackey struck out eight and walked two, Brian Roberts in the third and Nate McLouth in the sixth.
The Orioles (81-71) have lost seven straight times when trying to go 12 games over. 500, and face the daunting task of facing the Rays who are throwing David Price, Alex Cobb, Jeremy Hellickson and Chris Archer against them in the next four games.
“At this point, you need W’s. Lots of them. Winning two is better than losing two, but it’s certainly not about winning series. It’s about winning as many games as possible in the last, what do we have, 10 left? Go out and try and win 10 and see what happens,” Roberts said.
After the four games at Tampa Bay, the Orioles return home on Tuesday for six games with Toronto and Boston.
The Orioles won two of three in both Toronto and Boston and now have a difficult four-game series at Tampa Bay beginning on Friday.
“Our guys aren't satisfied with it. Mathematically over a long season it bodes well, but we're in a different spot. Every game is either a gained opportunity or a missed one. If someone said, 'Would you have taken two out of three in Toronto and two out of three here before you left?' I don't think our guys ever had that mentality. It's just, let's go play a game and see,” manager Buck Showalter said.
It would be a stretch to say that Chris Tillman nearly matched Lackey, but considering his rough first two innings, and that the Orioles could do so little against Lackey, he had no shot.
The Red Sox (93-61) scored three runs off Tillman in the third. Jarrod Saltalamacchia led off with a double. With one out, Stephen Drew hit his 13th home run of the year to left field. Jackie Bradley, Jr. doubled and scored on Dustin Pedroia’s single.
After Pedroia’s single, Tillman (16-7) retired 17 of his last 19 hitters. He allowed seven hits in seven innings, walked two and struck out eight.
“That’s the way these games go at the end of the season. You’ve got to be on top of it from the get go all the way through. I made some mistakes and they made me pay,” Tillman said. “I was trying to make adjustments all night. I was a little out of whack the whole game.”
Tillman, who is the Orioles’ biggest winner since Mike Mussina won 18 in 1999, has won just two of his last eight starts. He likely has two starts remaining, on Tuesday against Toronto and Sept. 29 when he’d face the Red Sox.
“We control what we control. We’ve got to play good baseball from here on out. We know there’s some things we can’t control, but at the same time, we can control some things,” Tillman said.
The Orioles have now scored five or fewer runs in the past 16 games, their longest stretch since they went 21 games without scoring more than five in Sept. 1992.
Not a good time for the bats to grow quieter.
“I think there’s probably a little more sense of urgency than a game in April, maybe,” Roberts said. “When you know you’re down to 10, and you’ve got to win, it changes your mindset a little bit, not a ton.”
NOTES: Jason Hammel (7-8, 5.12) faces David Price (8-8, 3.42) in the first of four games at Tampa Bay on Friday.
-Darren O’Day, who hadn’t pitched since Sept. 7 due to numbness in fingers in his right hand, threw one pitch to Mike Napoli and retired him on a ground ball in the eighth.
-The two hits matches the Orioles season low. On June 7, they had two hits against the Rays.