With their playoff hopes all but gone, the Baltimore Orioles can turn their attention toward finishing above .500 for the second consecutive season.
That goal will have to be obtained without the help of All-Star third baseman Manny Machado .
Baltimore begins what could potentially be a very long stretch without Machado on Tuesday night when it opens a three-game set against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Machado suffered a serious injury when his left leg buckled as he reached the first-base bag in the seventh inning of Monday's 5-4 loss at Tampa Bay. He was in obvious pain while being treated on the infield dirt before he was taken off the field on a stretcher."I'm sure we won't get a full diagnosis until we get an MRI back in Baltimore (on Tuesday)," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said while acknowledging that "it certainly doesn't look very promising right now."
Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon, who had a better view of Machado's collapse, had a more stark analysis."It's horrible," Maddon said. "Hate to see that. This young man blows out his knee, possibly."
The injury overshadowed a fifth straight loss for the Orioles (81-75), who have fallen five games behind the final wild-card spot with six to play.
Baltimore has batted .171 and totaled 11 runs during the skid, its longest since a season-high six-game slide May 14-20. Those offensive woes extend back further with the team hitting .223 and averaging 3.4 runs over the last 20 games.
One bright spot for the Orioles was Chris Davis hitting his 52nd home run Monday to extend his franchise record. Davis, though, is batting .207 with 33 strikeouts in 87 at-bats this month.
He should be happy to see the Blue Jays again.
Davis is 18 for 58 (.310) with seven homers and 18 RBIs in 16 games this season versus Toronto. One of those home runs came off Blue Jays starter Todd Redmond .
Baltimore needs one win in its final six games to finish above .500 for the second year in a row following 14 consecutive losing seasons.
There's no pitcher the Orioles would rather have on the mound than Chris Tillman (16-7, 3.70 ERA), their most reliable starter. He ranks among the AL leaders in wins and opponent batting average (.239), needing 5 2-3 innings to reach 200 for the first time.
"I think the statistics snuck up on some people, but how well he's pitching didn't and how well he's capable of it in our circles," Showalter told the team's official website.
The right-hander, though, has lost three of four decisions this month, posting a 4.28 ERA. He gave up three runs - all in the second inning - and seven hits over seven frames Thursday in a 3-1 loss at Boston.
Tillman is 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA in four starts against the Blue Jays this season.
Toronto continued its seven-game road trip Monday with a 3-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox. J.P. Arencibia homered for the Blue Jays, losers in nine of 13.
Adam Lind is batting .421 with four homers and 10 RBIs against the Orioles this season. His seven homers in September tie him for most in the AL.
Redmond (4-2, 3.82) looks to continue his strong finish. The right-hander is 3-0 with a 2.63 ERA in his last four starts. Included in that stretch was a 6 1-3-inning outing against the Orioles on Sept. 13 during which he allowed one run and three hits before Baltimore rallied for a 5-3 victory.
He was even better against the Yankees on Thursday, yielding one run and four hits over a career-best seven innings in a 6-2 win.
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|September 21, 2013||Colby Rasmus||15-Day DL||Bruised left eye|
|September 17, 2013||Edwin Encarnacion||Day-to-Day||Left wrist surgery - out for season|
|September 16, 2013||Edwin Encarnacion||15-Day DL||Left wrist surgery - out for season|
|September 13, 2013||Brett Cecil||15-Day DL||Left elbow discomfort|
|September 08, 2013||Moises Sierra||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower back tightness|
|August 21, 2013||Jose Bautista||15-Day DL||Left hip bone bruise - out for season|
|September 23, 2013||Manny Machado||Day-to-Day||Strained left knee|
|August 31, 2013||Eric Beaulac||60-Day DL||Torn labrum, right hip|
|August 28, 2013||Steve Pearce||15-Day DL||Left wrist inflammation|
|August 28, 2013||Steve Pearce||15-Day DL||Left wrist inflammation|
|August 16, 2013||Francisco Rodriguez||Day-to-Day||Strained right groin|
|July 29, 2013||Jason Hammel||15-Day DL||Right forearm tenderness|
BALTIMORE (AP) -- How appropriate the Baltimore Orioles were eliminated from the playoff hunt by a one-run defeat in extra innings.
The Orioles dropped out of the postseason race Tuesday night, losing to the Toronto Blue Jays 3-2 in 10 innings in a game that had an all too familiar feel for Baltimore.
Baltimore's sixth straight loss, combined with Cleveland's comeback win over the Chicago White Sox, left the Orioles six games behind the Indians for the final wild-card slot with five games left.
A year ago, the Orioles made the playoffs because they were outstanding in close games. Baltimore was 29-9 in one-run affairs and 16-2 in games that went extra innings.
This year, those numbers are 17-31 and 8-7.
What went wrong?
"I don't know who you'd have to talk to to get the answer to that one," shortstop J.J. Hardy said. "I don't know. It's just the way things worked out. We still believe we're a good team, and we're going to get better."
The Orioles knew it was going to be nearly impossible to reach the postseason after they were swept in a four-game series in Tampa Bay before returning home. This defeat finalized the inevitable.
"We play all the way from February 15th or whenever we started to get to the playoffs," Hardy said. "It's hard to think that after how many games we've played since then, we're not going, so yeah, it's tough."
Toronto's Mark DeRosa singled in the tying run in the eighth inning and put the Blue Jays ahead in the 10th.
Sergio Santos (1-1) worked a perfect ninth and Casey Janssen got three outs for his 34th save.
Jose Reyes drew a one-out walk in the Toronto 10th off Francisco Rodriguez (2-1) and Munenori Kawasaki singled. Reyes appeared to be picked off second but was called safe, drawing Orioles manager Buck Showalter out to argue the call.
"The throw beat me but he don't touch me," Reyes said. "He don't tag me. It wasn't even close. That was the right call by the umpire."
Brett Lawrie then hit into a fielder's choice and DeRosa singled to right.
Brian Roberts and Nate McLouth homered for the Orioles, whose six-game skid ties their longest of the season.
Down the stretch, Baltimore lost its hitting touch and ability to win the tight ones. The scores of those six losses: 3-1, 5-4, 5-1, 3-1, 5-4 and 3-2.
"For some reason, our consistency offensively wasn't there, as it should have been at the end," McLouth said
Baltimore starter Chris Tillman gave up one run, five hits and a walk in seven innings. He tied a career high with nine strikeouts and left with a 2-1 lead, but the bullpen immediately gave up the advantage in the eighth.
Reyes greeted Kevin Gausman with a single and reached third with one out before Lawrie struck out on a 3-2 pitch. DeRosa pinch hit for Adam Lind and delivered an opposite-field bloop single off Brian Matusz to knot the score at 2.
Vying for his fourth straight win for the Blue Jays, starter Todd Redmond had a decent outing - except for two pitches, the ones Roberts and McLouth sent over the scoreboard in right field in the third inning. Redmond allowed two runs and eight hits over 5 2-3 innings.
"I didn't have my best stuff compared to my last couple of outings but I tried to give the guys a chance to win," the right-hander said. "The offense came through and we did."
Toronto got a second-inning run when Ryan Goins hit a two-out RBI single. In the bottom half, the Orioles loaded the bases with one out but failed to score.
In the third, however, Roberts and McLouth connected within a span of three pitches to put Baltimore up 2-1. It was the fifth time this season the Orioles hit back-to-back homers, the second time against the Blue Jays.
But the lead ultimately wouldn't hold up - as has been the case so often this season.
"It's a lot of close games," Showalter said. "There's some things we did well and some things we didn't. But there's a lot of good baseball ahead for this team and this organization."
NOTES: An MRI on the left knee of Orioles 3B Manny Machado revealed no major ligament tears, and he could be running within two months. Machado was carted off the field after the injury occurred Monday against Tampa Bay. He was in the dugout and received an ovation when shown on the scoreboard. ... RHP Bud Norris takes the mound for the Orioles on Wednesday night against Toronto RHP Esmil Rogers . ... Toronto RF Moises Sierra left in the sixth inning after catching his spikes on the outfield grass chasing down a fly ball. Manager John Gibbons said it was an ankle sprain. ... The Orioles have gone 21 straight games without scoring more than five runs. The last time that happened was in 1992. ... DeRosa is 6 for 21 with eight RBIs as a pinch-hitter.