Sep 17, 2015; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado (13) slides home to score a run as Tampa Bay Rays catcher Luke Maile (46) attempts to tag him out during the eighth inning at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The Baltimore Orioles turned a three-run deficit in the eighth inning into a 4-3 win in front of a meager crowd of less than 10,000 people at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg on Thursday night.
Do you still think the Baltimore Orioles have given up on 2015? For seven innings on Thursday, it sure looked like it.
But, in the eighth, the tide changed and the Orioles scored four runs without ANY home runs. There were a few well struck singles, and a few more that were more like bloopers. All punctuated by a check-swing flare into right field off the bat of Adam Jones that gave the O’s a lead they would not relinquish.
Chris Tillman was solid in this one, and he arguably has been the O’s best starting pitcher in the second half. But, he didn’t get any run support, and Brian Matusz came in and of course let inherited runners score.
The O’s, meanwhile, could not touch Matt Moore. But Moore, who is continuing to get himself back into top form, left a little earlier than he probably would have liked. And the Orioles made the Rays pay.
This win, which looked bleak at the seventh inning stretch, puts the Orioles less than five games out of first place. Five games out, with 16 to go. The O’s are not out of it at all.
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The other part of this comeback win is that hopefully it demoralizes the Rays. Tampa Bay is only two games behind the O’s, but a tough loss late in the game could leave the Rays down. That would help as the O’s move forward in the next three games of the series. A series that the O’s need to win. Not split, but win.
The O’s sit half a game behind the Cleveland Indians, who lost to the Kansas City Royals on Thursday night. The Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Angels are both ahead of the Orioles, but they play each other in a four-game set. As long as the O’s keep winning, they will gain on these teams unless there is a sweep.
The Orioles actually have one of the best records in the American League in their last 10 games. So, while the O’s are still a longshot to make the playoffs, if they keep winning, good things could happen.
Being relevant in September used to be all O’s fans wanted. 2015 hasn’t worked out exactly the way the Baltimore Orioles expected, but the team isn’t out of it yet.
And as long as the O’s aren’t eliminated from playoff contention, the team is still relevant.