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)
The World Series champion Red Sox are scheduled to visit President Trump in the White House on February 15. Some have speculated that manager Álex Cora, who is from Puerto Rico and has been critical of Trump and has been a big factor in Hurricane Maria relief efforts, might not go as a form of protest. Thus far, nothing concrete has been reported on that front.
However, third baseman Rafael Devers says he isn’t going to join the Red Sox on their visit to the White House, Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston reports. Devers would prefer to focus on baseball, as the Red Sox open spring training on February 13 and position players have to report on February 17. Per Chris Mason, Devers also said via a translator, “The opportunity was presented and I just wasn’t compelled to go.”
Devers hails from the Dominican Republic and he, like many of Major League Baseball’s foreign-born player base, might not be happy about Trump’s immigration policies. Understandably, he is being tight-lipped about his motivation, but it wouldn’t be surprising if Devers is making a silent protest by choosing not to attend. He is thus far the only member of the team to bow out.
Devers, 22, hit .240/.298/.433 with 21 home runs, 66 RBI, and 59 runs scored in 490 plate appearances last season.
Last year, when the Astros visited Trump at the White House, they did so without Carlos Correa and Carlos Beltrán. Both are from Puerto Rico. It is certainly not unprecedented for individual players to opt out of the White House visit.
No word yet on what food will be served during Boston’s trip to the nation’s capital, but the smart money is on hamberders.