BALTIMORE — The Orioles received the rarest of baseball gifts Monday night, a rocky and abbreviated start from reigning American League Cy Young Award winner David Price.
They didn’t enjoy it, though, because the Baltimore offense simply couldn’t take advantage of continual opportunities in a 4-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.
You may have read that one before. Recently.
Although the Orioles were third in the majors with a .279 average with runners in scoring position heading into Monday, they’ve struggled lately with leaving runners on base.
In their past six games, before Monday, the Orioles had stranded 44 base runners. And they left a head-scratching 10 more on against Price in five innings and 15 overall. In four consecutive innings Monday, the Orioles had a runner on third and one out against Price and finished the frame without scoring.
Monday’s loss, though, was particularly deflating because the third-place Orioles (67-57) have dropped to 41 / 2 games behind the second-place Rays (71-52) in the AL wild-card race.
Playing before an announced crowd of 25,044 in what’s about as critical as a mid-August series gets, the Orioles simply couldn’t cash in when they needed it.
Price permitted just two runs despite allowing a season-high-tying 10 hits and walking more than one batter in a game for the first time since May 4. And it certainly didn’t help that the Orioles’ de facto ace, Chris Tillman, allowed four runs in six innings.
Price (7-5) has never lost in eight starts at Camden Yards. And that streak remains intact despite lasting just five innings — by far his shortest stint since straining his left triceps May 15.
Tillman (14-4) allowed single runs in the first two innings — a solo homer by Evan Longoria, his 25th of the season, in the first and an RBI single by Kelly Johnson in the second.
Longoria entered the night 9 for 21 with three homers vs. Tillman before he deposited a 91-mph fastball over the right-center field wall.