The Baltimore Orioles ' chances for a second straight postseason appearance have officially been dashed, largely due to the club's prolonged offensive slump.
They'll hope the offense finally comes alive Wednesday night against the visiting Toronto Blue Jays as the Orioles try to avoid their first seven-game losing streak in two years.
Baltimore (81-76) was mathematically eliminated from playoff contention Tuesday with a 3-2 loss in 10 innings, with Mark DeRosa driving in both the tying run in the eighth as a pinch-hitter as well as the go-ahead score.
The Orioles haven't been to the playoffs in consecutive seasons since 1996-97. Baltimore earned a reputation for squeaking out close victories last year after going 29-9 in one-run games, but is 17-31 in such contests this season.
The club hasn't lost seven in a row since a nine-game skid from July 4-15, 2011.
"We play all the way from February 15th or whenever we started to get to the playoffs," J.J. 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."
The Orioles trailed Tampa Bay by two games for the AL's second wild-card spot on Sept. 2. They're 8-13 since while scoring five runs or fewer in each contest, the first time they've done so in 21 consecutive games since 1992.
Baltimore has averaged 3.3 runs during this stretch, compared to a 4.8 average in its previous 136 games, which ranked fourth in baseball.
Trying to extend the Orioles' woes will be scheduled starter Esmil Rogers (5-8, 4.52 ERA), who comes off the second-shortest start of his career. He issued five walks and was charged with a wild pitch while allowing two runs and three hits in 2 1-3 innings of a 6-3 loss at Boston on Friday.
He is 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA over eight career appearances versus Baltimore, giving up three runs and five hits over six innings of a 4-3 victory in the only start on Sept. 14.
Chris Davis - who is 6 for 39 (.154) over his last nine games with 16 strikeouts - is 3 for 7 off Rogers with two doubles.
Matching up opposite Rogers will be Bud Norris (4-3, 4.63). Lingering elbow tightness has left him unable to start since Sept. 8, when he allowed four runs and nine hits in 4 1-3 innings in a 4-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox. He was the losing pitcher after surrendering the go-ahead run in a 5-4, 18-inning loss at Tampa Bay on Friday, throwing 2 1-3 innings of emergency relief.
The Orioles received good news Tuesday in the form of an MRI revealed a torn medial patellofemoral ligament in Manny Machado 's left knee, an injury he can likely return from in time for spring training.
Adam Lind , who was 2 for 3 Tuesday, has hit safely in 15 of his 16 games against Baltimore this year, going 26 for 60 (.433).
Toronto can clinch the season series for the third time in four years with a win Wednesday.
|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) -- A winning season was never an objective for the Baltimore Orioles . Reaching the playoffs was all that mattered.
So, after the Orioles beat the Toronto Blue Jays 9-5 on Wednesday night to clinch a winning record for the second straight year, the players saw absolutely no reason to celebrate the moment.
"We didn't make it to the playoffs. That was our goal," shortstop J.J. Hardy said. "I don't know how much we look at it as, `All right, we got a winning season. Hurrah, hooray."'
The Orioles were eliminated from the wild-card hunt one night earlier, so manager Buck Showalter rested Adam Jones , Brian Roberts and Matt Wieters and moved Chris Davis from first base to designated hitter.
Jonathan Schoop , a 21-year-old prospect making his major league debut, homered, singled, walked and scored three runs.
Now that, Hardy contended, was exciting.
"I think that's more important right now, seeing Schoopy go out there and do what he did," Hardy said. "It's pretty special, fun to be a part of."
Perhaps that was the biggest benefit from playing a game that did not have playoff ramifications. With a lineup that included Jason Pridie , Schoop and Steve Clevenger , the Orioles ended a streak of 21 straight games of scoring five runs or fewer.
Schoop couldn't contain his excitement, even after receiving two post-game pies to the face, an Orioles tradition.
"My major league debut, it was good," he said. "It's the first experience and I'm never going to forget."
Ryan Flaherty hit a pair of two-run homers, Steve Pearce hit a solo shot and Davis doubled in a run to increase his RBI total to 137 - tied with Detroit's Miguel Cabrera for the major league lead.
Flaherty connected in the third and eighth innings. It was his second career two-homer game, both of which came against Toronto this season.
And so, after a run of 14 straight losing seasons, Baltimore (82-76) is assured of having a winning record in successive years for the first time since 1996-97.
"We're disappointed, but one of the most impressive things in team sports to me is people who can consistently be competitive and win," Showalter said. "It's hard to do."
Munenori Kawasaki and Josh Thole both had four hits for the last-place Blue Jays, who stranded 14 and went 4 for 22 with runners in scoring position.
"We kept getting guys on base. We just couldn't get them in enough," manager John Gibbons said. "You run into those. That's where we could have used that home run. They got a couple of homers. We could have used one. Might have been a different story."
T.J. McFarland (3-1) pitched one inning of relief for Baltimore and Jason Hammel worked 2 1-3 innings for his first save since 2011. Starter Bud Norris allowed three runs and seven hits over four innings and needed 96 pitches to do so.
Esmil Rogers (5-9) yielded six runs and eight hits - including two homers - in 4 1-3 innings for Toronto.
"You make a couple of mistakes, you pay at this level," Rogers said. "It doesn't matter who you are. It doesn't matter if you're a baby. If you got a mistake, you're going to pay."
An RBI single by Jose Reyes put the Blue Jays up 1-0 in the second inning, and Toronto added two runs in the third when Anthony Gose tripled in a run and scored on a single by Thole.
Baltimore closed to 3-2 in the third. After Schoop singled in first major league at-bat, Flaherty homered to right. One inning later, Pearce homered to tie it.
The Orioles used an RBI single by Nick Markakis , a run-scoring double by Davis and an RBI groundout by Pridie to go ahead 6-3 in the fifth.
In the sixth, Schoop ripped a 2-1 pitch from Kyle Drabek over the wall in center field. Two batters later, Drabek was struck in the right ankle by a line drive and left the game. X-rays were negative.
NOTES: Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos said his priority during the offseason will be to bolster the starting rotation. "That's the most glaring hole on this team. We can go across the diamond, but if we don't get improvement on the mound it isn't going to matter," he said. ... Baltimore placed 3B Manny Machado on the 60-day DL to make room for Pridie, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Norfolk. Pridie is the 54th player to suit up for the Orioles, tying the 1955 team for most in a season. ... Baltimore's first nine hits were by nine different players. ... The winner of Thursday's game wins the season series. Each team has nine victories.