ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - Evan Longoria's flair for the dramatic on
the final night of the season ended Baltimore's bid to force a one-game
tiebreaker for the AL East title.
Instead, the Orioles were left
to begin their first playoff appearance in 15 years on the road against
two-time defending league champion Texas.
Longoria homered three
times and the Tampa Bay Rays shut down the Orioles 4-1 Wednesday night
at Tropicana Field, where Longoria also ended last season with a bang.
began the day one game behind the New York Yankees in the division. The
Orioles needed a win, plus a loss by the Yankees to Boston, to pull
New York cruised to a 14-2 rout of the Red Sox and finished
two games ahead of the Orioles, earning its 13th division crown in 17
years. The Yankees had a 10-game lead on July 18 but Baltimore caught up
Sept. 4 and the teams were tied 10 times in September.
it was a long shot, but we ran into some really good pitching," Orioles
manager Buck Showalter said. "I've got to tip my hat to them, and what
is really kind of amazing is that you look over there with what they've
been able to do this year, win 90 games, and that tells you what a fine
line there is in all those extra-inning games and one-run losses, and we
could be in the same position they are."
The loss sent the
Orioles to Texas, where they'll play the Rangers on Friday night, with
the winner advancing to the best-of-five division series against the New
"We're going to take it one game at a time.
Obviously if you lose, you're done," said Orioles slugger Chris Davis,
who had homered in six straight games. "We're going to try to do
everything we can to beat Texas and get back home."
finished the season in dramatic fashion for the second straight year,
hitting solo shots off Chris Tillman in the first and fourth innings and
adding another solo drive off Jake Arrieta in the sixth.
chance to tie the major league record of four homers in a game, the
three-time All-Star who missed 85 games this year with a strained left
hamstring grounded out in the eighth.
"It was cool," Longoria said. "That's about as fun a night as you can have in a ballgame."
second career three-homer game came a year after he hit two of them of
the final night of last season, including a 12th-inning, game-ending
shot that clinched a postseason berth. The area beyond a short wall in
the left-field corner where the biggest homer in franchise history
landed is now called 162 Landing.
"I just think it highlights how
well we play in games 162," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "It was a very
dramatic game, the way it all unfolded. I just like the idea that we
played the last game of the season with that kind of effort and
Ryan Roberts also homered for the Rays in the fourth against Tillman (9-3).
Hellickson (10-11) allowed one hit - Adam Jones' fourth-inning single -
in 5 1-3 innings. Jake McGee, Wade Davis, Joel Peralta and Fernando
Rodney teamed up to hold the Orioles to two hits - J.J. Hardy's double
and Matt Wieters' single, both in the ninth inning - the rest of the
Jones ruined Tampa Bay's shot at a 16th shutout with a
sacrifice fly off Peralta. After Wieters singled, Rodney was summoned to
get the final out for his 48th save in 50 opportunities.
who tied an Orioles record when he homered for the sixth straight game
in a 1-0 win over Tampa Bay on Tuesday night, went 0 for 4 with three
Baltimore had five hits in the final two games of the
regular season, but Jones is confident the offense will bounce back for
the club's first postseason game since 1997.
"We ain't got no choice. You don't hit, you go home," Jones said. "It's no ifs, buts or maybes. Both teams know that."
has homered in five of his last seven plate appearances in the final
game of the season. In four career Game 162s, he is 8 for 15 with six
homers and nine RBIs.
"Sometimes you've got to give credit where
credit is due. He put some good swings on some pitches, but I should
have been better," Tillman said. "I knew what I needed to do. I just
didn't get it done."
Longoria is 6 for 12 with three homers
against Tillman, who lasted five innings and allowed three runs on four
hits in his first loss since Kansas City beat him on Aug. 11. The
right-hander who had gone 3-0 with a 1.20 ERA over his previous five
starts also allowed three homers in that game, matching his career high.
Rays (90-72) won 12 of 14 down the stretch, remaining in contention for
the second AL wild card until the 160th game and finished with at least
90 wins for the third straight season.
Hellickson allowed three
baserunners, two of them in the fourth inning when Jones singled to
right-center after Davis struck out on a wild pitch that allowed him to
reach first. The 2011 AL Rookie of the Year walked Manny Machado leading
off the sixth and was replaced by McGee after getting the next batter,
Nate McLouth, to pop out.
"The big tip of the cap goes to Joe
Maddon and the Rays. They played 162," Jones said. "Their players went
out every game to the last one and gave it all they've got."
Jones played in every regular-season game this season. "It's a pretty
cool thing," Showalter said. Jones is the first Baltimore player to
accomplish the feat since Miguel Tejada in 2006. ... Orioles RHP Steve
Johnson (sore left knee) said he felt great after throwing off a bullpen
mound. ... Rays CF B.J. Upton, who can become a free agent this winter,
singled in what might have been his last at-bat with Tampa Bay. The
crowd of 17,909 gave him a standing ovation when he was removed for a
pinch-runner in the eighth inning.