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.
Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.
Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.
Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.
Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):
We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.
Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.
Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.
Hazen issued a statement following the signing:
With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.