The Orioles’ 3-2 extra-inning win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday afternoon was a long time coming – in more ways than one.
The Orioles needed 14 innings and – five hours and 15 minutes – to complete a three-game sweep of the division-rival Rays, a win hugely monumental for the long suffering baseball fans of Baltimore.
The victory was the Orioles’ 81st of the season, guaranteeing at least a .500 record and snapping the club’s streak of 14 consecutive losing seasons.
These Orioles obviously have more lofty goals, ones that include a playoff berth and division title for the first time since their wire-to-wire 1997 campaign, but the fact that this team snapped this city’s most dubious sports distinction wasn’t lost on them.
“I don’t think our guys take anything for granted,” Orioles Manager Buck Showalter said. “There’s a bigger goal in mind and that wasn’t the goal from Day One this spring. Really, Day One of the off-season. It’s 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?’ ”
With just 19 games remaining in the regular season, the Orioles boarded their team charter to the West Coast — they open a three-game series Friday night in Oakland and then go to Seattle on Monday for three before traveling to Boston — later than anticipated Thursday evening, but they right where they wanted to be.
Atop the American League East.
The Orioles (81-62) kept at least a share of the AL East lead – a Yankees’ loss in Boston later Thursday night would give the O’s sole possession of first place for the first time since June 6 – while sending the Rays four games back in the division and AL wild card standings.
“I definitely think it’s something to be proud of,“ said Orioles right fielder Chris Davis, who was 3-for-4 Thursday. “We’ve played well so far this year and put ourselves in a position to make the playoffs.”
The last time the Orioles had a winning season, rookie third baseball Manny Machado was just 5 years old. And on Thursday, his two-out single to left field drove in Adam Jones with the winning run in the bottom of the 14th inning, giving the Orioles their 13th straight extra-inning victory and improving their record to 27-7 in one-run games.
“It feels great,” Machado said. “It feels even better, we’re winning and we having great success. The thing about this team is we worry about the game tomorrow. We’ve got a big series coming up. Stay focused on what comes next.”
— Baltimore Sun