Orioles beat Rays in 14 innings to complete sweep

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Another day, another one-run victory for the unstoppable Orioles.

Baltimore beat Tampa Bay 3-2 in 14 innings Thursday to complete a three-game sweep. Manny Machado came up big again, delivering a game-winning single after starting the day 0-for-5.

It looked like the Orioles would win it in the 13th, but Chris Archer, making his first major league relief appearance, got three outs to escape a bases-loaded jam. The first out was aided by a five-man infield, as Robert Andino grounded to second and the Rays got the out at home. Archer then struck out pinch-hitter Matt Wieters and Nate McLouth.

Archer went on to take the loss in the 14th. After pitching 3 2/3 scoreless innings, he allowed a walk to Adam Jones and back-to-back singles to Endy Chavez and Machado, ending the game.

Baltimore’s early hero was catcher Taylor Teagarden, as the .119 hitter put the team on the board with a two-run double in the seventh. He has just six hits this season, but they include two homers and three doubles. He had a walkoff homer in his first appearance of the season for the team on July 14.

The Orioles have now won 13 straight extra-inning games. They’re an incredible 27-7 in one-run games this season. At 81-62, they’ve ensured themselves their first .500 season since 1997, not they they seem likely to stop there, as they’re 26-11 since Aug. 3. All that and they’ve still been outscored 643-623 for the season.

As for the Rays, things look pretty bleak. They’re 4 games back of the Orioles in the AL East. They’re also 4 1/2 games behind the A’s and they’ll end the night 3 or 4 back of the Yankees. They’ll have to pass one of those teams and fend off the Angels and Tigers to claim a postseason spot. It’s still doable, but it’s going to take a winning streak.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.