In a game that featured a major league record 21 pitchers and took nearly seven hours, the Rays outlasted the Orioles 5-4 in 18 innings Friday.
The Rays’ win came hours after they were officially eliminated from AL East contention by the Red Sox, but they’ve already known for a couple of weeks that it’d probably be the wild card or nothing. They celebrated like they clinched a berth themselves when David DeJesus singled in Desmond Jennings in the bottom of the 18th.
Jennings was scratched from the Rays’ original lineup because of a sore neck, but he ended up playing 10 innings anyway and going 2-for-4 with a walk. His double got the rally started in the 18th.
Getting the victory was Jeremy Hellickson, the Rays’ 11th pitcher. The Orioles likewise turned to a starter, Bud Norris, in the 16th. He took the loss.
The Orioles went the 18 innings without ever using closer Jim Johnson, though they had him warming up often enough.
The win puts the Rays alone at the top of the wild card race. The Indians won a rain-shortened game against the Astros on Friday, and the Royals edged Rangers 2-1 after scoring in the bottom of the eighth. Here are the standings with 8-9 games left:
Tampa Bay – 84-69
Cleveland – 84-70
Texas – 83-70 (.5 games back)
Baltimore – 81-72 (2.5 games back)
Kansas City – 81-72 (2.5 games back)
New York – 81-73 (3 games back)
Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman might be headed to the disabled list soon, manager John Gibbons told reporters following Friday’s rain-shortened loss to the Yankees. The righty lasted just four innings on the mound before calling it a night, and gave up five runs, six hits and two walks in a performance that Gibbons claimed was at least partially affected by recurring blister issues on his right middle finger. Now, it looks like he might be removed from the rotation for some much-needed rest and rehabilitation; if so, it’ll be his second such stint this year.
Stroman, 27, has struggled to return the kind of winning record and sub-4.00 ERA that characterized his previous seasons with the club, mostly due to the combined seven weeks he missed with blisters on his throwing hand and chronic fatigue in his right shoulder. In a recent start against the Rays, things got even more gruesome when his blister appeared to start bleeding in the middle of his outing and MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm notes that the wound has constantly interfered with the right-hander’s pitch selection and delivery. When healthy, Stroman has managed a 4-8 record through 18 starts in 2018 with a career-worst 5.27 ERA, 3.2 BB/9 and 6.8 SO/9 in 100 2/3 innings. This will be the first year since 2015 in which he has not logged at least 200 innings in a single season.
While Stroman may not need an extended stay on the DL before he returns to the mound, it’s not clear what kind of timetable the Blue Jays expect for his recovery. He’s been the second-most valuable starter (behind the now-traded J.A. Happ) in a rotation that currently ranks 17th in the majors with a combined 4.90 ERA and 6.8 fWAR.