Machado's walk-off hit in 14th keeps O's tied for first
First, it ended a 14-inning marathon and gave the Orioles a hard-fought 3-2 victory over the Rays before 25,130 at Camden Yards and completed a sweep of the three-game series. But it also meant the Orioles weren't a losing team any more and put them alone in first place in the American League East until the Yankees defeated the Red Sox on Thursday night to regain a share of the top spot.
The win improved the Orioles to 81-62 and ended a streak of 14 straight losing seasons. Baltimore last finished with a winning record when it captured the American League East in 1997. The Orioles have won 13 straight extra-inning games, which extends a franchise record, and are 27-7 in one-run games.
Despite all of that, Baltimore manager Buck Showalter and his players weren't doing any wild celebrations in the clubhouse. They were more concerned with packing for the trip to the West Coast right after the game. They're not happy just yet.
"There's a bigger goal in mind, and that wasn't the goal from Day 1 this spring," Showalter said. "It's like watching other teams for years and saying, 'We want to do what they're doing. We'd like to get a chair at the dance, you know?'"
How are the Orioles continually winning? Well, they keep coming up with the right efforts at key times. In this game, starter Wei-Yin Chen delivered 7 1/3 solid innings before the bullpen threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings.
The Orioles went 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position and left 16, squandering a number of good chances. But they won the game with a two-out rally in the 14th.
"For us to have as many extra-inning wins as we do, it speaks a lot to the character of this team, but also the talent on this team," said Chris Davis. "We expect to win every night we go out. I think if you're not expecting to win, you shouldn't go out and play the game. We've been fortunate lately to have some things go our way, but we're playing really good baseball."
Darren O'Day, Jim Johnson, Luis Ayala, Brian Matusz and Randy Wolf (2-0) combined to shut down the Rays, striking out nine while walking only one.
Wolf and Johnson both had to escape two-on with two-out situations as the Orioles improved to 64-0 in games where they held the lead after seven innings.
"As long as we do our job, focus on our job and not worry about the extra stuff, then we give our offense a chance to come through for us," Johnson said. "We've been doing it a lot."
Tampa Bay (77-66) took a 1-0 lead in the fourth before Taylor Teagarden's two-run double in the seventh. Teagarden has six hits this season, and five of them have driven in runs and gone for extra bases. Four have given the Orioles the lead or tied the game.
The Rays tied it in the eighth on a Ben Zobrist infield single, which set up the extra baseball. Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon pulled out a number of tricks in the later innings. He put in pitcher Chris Archer (0-3) as a pinch-hitter when Ryan Roberts fouled a ball off his leg in the 11th and had to come out.
That's the first time an American League pitcher went in as pinch-hitter -- Archer struck out -- and stayed in to pitch since Boston's Joel Finch on July 25, 1979. The O's then loaded the bases with no outs against Archer in the 13th before the right-hander retired the next three batters and escaped trouble.
Maddon even put five infielders in place to try to stop the Orioles in that inning. In the end, the Rays used nine pitchers and 26 players to set a new club record.
Showalter said he worried about how his team would be able to bounce back from wasting that opportunity in the 13th. Wolf stopped Tampa Bay's threat in the 14th before Adam Jones drew a two-out walk and moved to second on an Endy Chavez single.
Machado then hit a ball toward the left-field foul line. Joyce raced over and just missed making the catch when he laid out near the line. Jones raced home with the game-winning run.
"The only thing I can tell you is I didn't come up with it," Joyce said. "It's one of those tough plays. You gave it your best shot. Sometimes you come down with it, sometimes you don't."
The 20-year-old Machado keeps showing up at the right times for the Orioles. He doesn't seem to be rattled by much, regardless of the situation.
"I'm having a blast," he said. "This team is great to be around. It's a great group of guys. We're all excited. We're all having one goal, which is to make the playoffs."
Machado then worked on packing quickly for the West Coast, where Baltimore will start by battling Oakland in a pivotal series beginning Friday. But Machado would be wearing an unusual outfit for the long trip as part of the team's fun with rookies.
A white tutu plus a green dress had been hung up in Machado's locker. He'll wear it on the long flight, and the team will drop him and other rookies off the bus about three blocks short of the hotel near Oakland so they can walk to the hotel and draw a bit of attention.
Now, that's something different. The Orioles are doing a lot of things differently these days.