ST. PETERSBURG -- Blake Snell gave the Rays a quality start and the offense put away the game late as the Rays ended the season on a high note, defeating the Orioles, 6-0, Sunday afternoon at Tropicana Field.The win completed the Rays' three-game weekend sweep, giving the team a third-place
ST. PETERSBURG -- Blake Snell gave the Rays a quality start and the offense put away the game late as the Rays ended the season on a high note, defeating the Orioles, 6-0, Sunday afternoon at Tropicana Field.
The win completed the Rays' three-game weekend sweep, giving the team a third-place finish in the American League East with an 80-82 record, which matched Kevin Cash's best season as the team's manager. The Orioles finished at 75-87, losing 19 of their last 23 to end the season in last place in the AL East for the first time since 2011.
"Really proud of them," said Cash about the way his team closed out the season. "It's very easy once you get knocked out and realize you're not playing for postseason opportunities -- I don't think you ever completely check out, but it's easy to let your guard down a little bit, and they didn't."
Snell carried a perfect game into the fifth before Trey Mancini led off the inning with a single through the right side. The left-hander finished with seven scoreless innings, allowing two hits while striking out a career-high 13 to pick up his fifth win.
"It feels good," said Snell of his outing. "But I still know that I have to carry it over, have a good offseason and get ready for the next year now."
Orioles starter Kevin Gausman had been almost as impressive as Snell, holding the Rays scoreless through four innings. Curt Casali then homered to left on a 3-1 pitch to lead off the fifth, giving the Rays a 1-0 lead.
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"That was the highlight of the day. Kevin was really good," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "One mistake, got behind in the count, but that was really good to see. That tells you a lot about Kevin. I know he didn't want to end on that note and made a little adjustment, and he was pitching on regular rest, too. He's gotten stronger as the year's gone on. That's something he can really build on.
"Kind of settles in your mind as you go forward in your career that he's tied for the league lead in starts and he's been there for us."
Evan Longoria's RBI double in the eighth sparked a five-run outburst that included two bases-loaded walks to give the Rays a 6-0 lead heading into the ninth.
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Big Sally goes deep: Casali spent almost the entire season at Triple-A Durham, but he got the start at catcher Sunday and made the most of it. Leading off the fifth, Casali connected on a 3-1 fastball from Gausman for his first home run of the season, breaking a scoreless tie.
"It feels great," Casali said. "This is a fun team to be a part of. I wanted to be here from the very beginning, but roster decisions happen the way they are. And the front office was very honest with me from the beginning. It was a tough choice, and I appreciate their candor. But I feel comfortable with this group. I feel capable at the Major League level. And hopefully the last couple of games I showed them what type of guy, and what type of player I can be for them in the future."
Late insurance by Longo: Runners were on the corners when Longoria stepped to the plate with one out in the eighth to face Brad Brach. The Rays led 1-0 at the time and needed some insurance to lock down their 80th win. The Rays' veteran worked the count to 3-1, then poked a fastball into right field to score Peter Bourjos and give the Rays some much-needed separation.
"We played top-notch teams, and they just played better than us. One thing about us is [that] we never stopped battling, we never stopped fighting. Not just myself, everyone. I was proud of how we overcame a lot of things, and obviously we are not proud of where we ended the year, but at the end of the day, it's all about fighting, and until that last out is made we are battling, trying to get that 'W' and put us in a situation to do so." -- O's third baseman Manny Machado
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Mancini's fifth-inning single gave him 159 hits on the season, and moved him ahead of Cal Ripken Jr. for sole possession of second-place all-time on the Orioles' rookie hits list. Eddie Murray holds the record with 173.
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2004.
Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.