Longoria's three bombs send O's to play-in game

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Longoria's three bombs send O's to play-in game

From Comcast SportsNet

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Evan Longoria's flair for the dramatic on the final night of the season ended Baltimore's bid to force a one-game tiebreaker for the AL East title.

Instead, the Orioles were left to begin their first playoff appearance in 15 years on the road against two-time defending league champion Texas.

Longoria homered three times and the Tampa Bay Rays shut down the Orioles 4-1 Wednesday night at Tropicana Field, where Longoria also ended last season with a bang.

Baltimore began the day one game behind the New York Yankees in the division. The Orioles needed a win, plus a loss by the Yankees to Boston, to pull even.

New York cruised to a 14-2 rout of the Red Sox and finished two games ahead of the Orioles, earning its 13th division crown in 17 years. The Yankees had a 10-game lead on July 18 but Baltimore caught up Sept. 4 and the teams were tied 10 times in September.

"We knew it was a long shot, but we ran into some really good pitching," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "I've got to tip my hat to them, and what is really kind of amazing is that you look over there with what they've been able to do this year, win 90 games, and that tells you what a fine line there is in all those extra-inning games and one-run losses, and we could be in the same position they are."

The loss sent the Orioles to Texas, where they'll play the Rangers on Friday night, with the winner advancing to the best-of-five division series against the New York Yankees.

"We're going to take it one game at a time. Obviously if you lose, you're done," said Orioles slugger Chris Davis, who had homered in six straight games. "We're going to try to do everything we can to beat Texas and get back home."

Longoria finished the season in dramatic fashion for the second straight year, hitting solo shots off Chris Tillman in the first and fourth innings and adding another solo drive off Jake Arrieta in the sixth.

With a chance to tie the major league record of four homers in a game, the three-time All-Star who missed 85 games this year with a strained left hamstring grounded out in the eighth.

"It was cool," Longoria said. "That's about as fun a night as you can have in a ballgame."

Longoria's second career three-homer game came a year after he hit two of them of the final night of last season, including a 12th-inning, game-ending shot that clinched a postseason berth. The area beyond a short wall in the left-field corner where the biggest homer in franchise history landed is now called 162 Landing.

"I just think it highlights how well we play in games 162," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "It was a very dramatic game, the way it all unfolded. I just like the idea that we played the last game of the season with that kind of effort and intensity."

Ryan Roberts also homered for the Rays in the fourth against Tillman (9-3).

Jeremy Hellickson (10-11) allowed one hit -- Adam Jones' fourth-inning single -- in 5 1-3 innings. Jake McGee, Wade Davis, Joel Peralta and Fernando Rodney teamed up to hold the Orioles to two hits -- J.J. Hardy's double and Matt Wieters' single, both in the ninth inning -- the rest of the way.

Jones ruined Tampa Bay's shot at a 16th shutout with a sacrifice fly off Peralta. After Wieters singled, Rodney was summoned to get the final out for his 48th save in 50 opportunities.

Davis, who tied an Orioles record when he homered for the sixth straight game in a 1-0 win over Tampa Bay on Tuesday night, went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts.

Baltimore had five hits in the final two games of the regular season, but Jones is confident the offense will bounce back for the club's first postseason game since 1997.

"We ain't got no choice. You don't hit, you go home," Jones said. "It's no ifs, buts or maybes. Both teams know that."

Longoria has homered in five of his last seven plate appearances in the final game of the season. In four career Game 162s, he is 8 for 15 with six homers and nine RBIs.

"Sometimes you've got to give credit where credit is due. He put some good swings on some pitches, but I should have been better," Tillman said. "I knew what I needed to do. I just didn't get it done."

Longoria is 6 for 12 with three homers against Tillman, who lasted five innings and allowed three runs on four hits in his first loss since Kansas City beat him on Aug. 11. The right-hander who had gone 3-0 with a 1.20 ERA over his previous five starts also allowed three homers in that game, matching his career high.

The Rays (90-72) won 12 of 14 down the stretch, remaining in contention for the second AL wild card until the 160th game and finished with at least 90 wins for the third straight season.

Hellickson allowed three baserunners, two of them in the fourth inning when Jones singled to right-center after Davis struck out on a wild pitch that allowed him to reach first. The 2011 AL Rookie of the Year walked Manny Machado leading off the sixth and was replaced by McGee after getting the next batter, Nate McLouth, to pop out.

"The big tip of the cap goes to Joe Maddon and the Rays. They played 162," Jones said. "Their players went out every game to the last one and gave it all they've got."

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Lucas Giolito's velocity remains down, but he and Nats aren't worried

Lucas Giolito's velocity remains down, but he and Nats aren't worried

Through Lucas Giolito's first four big league starts, there has been something noticeably off from what we've seen and heard over the years about what makes him one of the top prospects in all of baseball. His fastball is supposed to sit comfortably in the high-90s and occasionally touch triple digits. From his arm angle at 6-foot-6, and countered with his hooking curveball, his fastball was a big reason scouts say he has superstar potential.

He could very well still become one of the game's best pitchers, but the Nats' rookie remains a work in progress and his fastball is currently nowhere near as fast as it once was. On Sunday against the Colorado Rockies, Giolito sat consistently around 93 miles per hour. That's not bad at all, but it's a far cry from the prodigious speed he used to have.

We've heard manager Dusty Baker offer his theories and so far he's downplayed it as not being a concern. On Sunday, we heard for the first time from Giolito himself on the subject, as well as from his opponents.

Here is what Giolito had to say:

"I can pitch at 93 if I’m hitting my spots and mixing up well. I think I left way too many fastballs up over the middle of the plate. Those are the ones that got hit pretty hard. So, the velocity I don’t think is a huge deal as long as I’m pitching the way I should be pitching."

Rockies star third baseman Nolan Arenado, who homered and landed an RBI single off Giolito, offered his take on the velocity dip.

"The reports you read about him say he throws about 95, 97. Those are the reports we saw and on video. It wasn't that," he said. "It doesn't matter. His length, the ball kind of gets on you, has a little jump to it. He's so tall, so big. It's not a comfortable at-bat," Arenado said.

Rockies manager Walt Weiss said that despite the results and the velocity, he can see why there was so much hype around Giolito.

“The future is bright, for sure,” Weiss said. “Big kid, big time arm. He showed a really good breaking ball and threw some good changeups to go with a power fastball. I have heard a lot about him, going back to when he was in high school, and for good reason."

Giolito remains a big part of the Nats' future plans, but at this point in his career he is a raw talent. He's still building confidence with his changeup and working on the command of his curveball. And now he's trying to learn how to pitch with a fastball that's not as lethal as it once was.

That's a tough situation for a young pitcher who doesn't have the experience a veteran would have to draw from.

"I’ve been pitching a lot better [at Triple-A] and figuring some stuff out. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to execute on a few pitches today," Giolito said after Sunday's 5-3 loss. "The only thing I can do is continue to work and try to get better about living down the zone, getting ahead of guys, and then throwing all my pitches for strikes and putting guys away."

Giolito still showed promise on Sunday with a career-high five innings pitched. But the swing-and-miss stuff that he's shown over the years as a prospect has yet to follow him to the majors.

"We haven't seen it yet at the major league level," Baker said. "His fastball is relatively straight, so you've gotta locate it well. Hopefully it will get better."

[RELATED: Giolito decent, but Nats offense falls short in loss to Colorado Rockies]

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4-star DeMatha OL Marcus Minor commits to the Maryland Terrapins

4-star DeMatha OL Marcus Minor commits to the Maryland Terrapins

Four-star DeMatha Catholic OL Marcus Minor has committed to Maryland, he announced during the 6 p.m. edition of SportsNet Central on CSN.

Minor becomes the 16th player committed to the Terrapins in the class of 2017. He is the next in a line of DeMatha players pledging to play in College Park, joining players that include DJ Turner, Tino Ellis, Terrance Davis, and Lorenzo Harrison.

Watch his commitment above.

Stay tuned for more...

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Gausman gets first road win in more than 2 years

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USA TODAY Sports

Gausman gets first road win in more than 2 years

 

NEW YORK---Kevin Gausman had grown tired hearing about the streak. He wanted it over. 

After 25 consecutive winless starts on the road, Gausman won his first start on the road since Aug. 17, 2014. 

In limiting the New York Yankees to seven hits in seven innings, Gausman gave the Orioles a much-needed solid start after two blowout losses. 

On a day when Mark Trumbo became the eighth Oriole to hit 40 home runs in a season and Steve Pearce batted leadoff for the first time and had three RBIs, it was clearly Gausman’s day in a 5-0 win over the New York Yankees before 38,002 at Yankee Stadium on Sunday.

The Orioles (71-59) escape the Bronx with a win after two losses when they allowed 27 runs and 36 hits. In their seven games here this season, they’ve won only two—both on getaway days.

Gausman (6-10) has won three straight for just the second time in his career, and the first time since June 2014. He struck out nine without walking a batter.

“That’s about as good as I’ve seen him,” manager Buck Showalter said. “He could have continued and will in the future.” 

Showalter wanted to get Tommy Hunter, who returned to the Orioles after 13 months away, and Zach Britton an inning each. 

Gausman had one difficult inning, the fourth, when he allowed three hits to New York (67-62), but none scored. Gary Sanchez led off with a single, but he tried to advance to third on Mark Teixeira’s single to right, but Pearce’s throw to Manny Machado was in time to nab Sanchez. 

Brian McCann singled to right with one out in the seventh, but Aaron Judge lined to Kim in left and Ronald Torreyes hit a hard grounder to third that Machado fielded on his knees to grab and throw Torreyes out. 

Gausman was done after that play, and he could watch the end of his unwanted streak.

“I’m pretty relieved about it. It’s been kind of annoying to hear,” Gausman said. 

In his last two starts, Gausman has pitched 13 shutout innings.

“I think there’s obviously some things that are going my way. Those line drives are kind of going right at guys right now. Seemed like earlier in the season I’d be pitching great and there’d be a bloop hit, ground ball through the four-hole or something. I don't think it’s anything different. I just think I’m being a little more fine, a little more consistent,” Gausman said. 

Pearce hit his 12th home run, and his second since rejoining the Orioles on Aug. 1 to lead off the sixth, and added a two-run single in the seventh. 

With Adam Jones sidelined with a strained left hamstring and facing CC Sabathia (8-11), who owns 19 regular season wins against the Orioles, Showalter decided to go with Pearce on top of the lineup for the first time. 

“You know Sabathia is a guy who works real slow, he’s very tries to get you to expand the strike zone,” Showalter said. “It’s a challenge, you want someone who can slow the game down a little bit. Stevie had a big day for us.”

Mark Trumbo hit his 40th home run in the eighth. Trumbo has done something Cal Ripken, Eddie Murray, Brooks Robinson and Boog Powell never did. 
“It’s obviously really nice. It’s hard to have a goal like that coming into the year because it’s such a lofty number. At least for me it has been, because I haven’t gotten there before. But I think I’ve been inspired by the guys around me. This year, especially, that’s probably helped out a bit,” Trumbo said. 

In Friday and Saturday’s losses, the Orioles allowed 27 runs and 26 hits. The bullpen threw 10 2/3 innings and gave up 14 runs and 23 hits. 
Showalter got to rest Brad Brach, Mychal Givens, Donnie Hart and Vance Worley as Hunter pitched a scoreless eighth, allowing a double to Sanchez and needed 12 pitches to retire Teixeira. 

“I was kind of hoping not to throw 25,000 pitches, but hopefully I can work on that and eat some innings for these guys to get some rest and help the ballclub out,” Hunter said. 

Britton retired all three batters he faced to complete the Orioles’ fifth shutout of the season. 

The Toronto Blue Jays come to Baltimore for three games beginning Monday. Toronto (74-56) leads the third-place Orioles by three. Marco Estrada (7-6, 3.47) faces Wade Miley (8-10, 5.51). 

“It’s going to be a dog fight, they always are. It’s the AL East in (August). This is what it’s all about. We’re going to have them at our place. We’re going to go out there, bring everything we’ve got and try to take care of business,” Pearce said. 

MORE ORIOLES: HUNTER: 'BALTIMORE IS SPECIAL TO ME'