Alvaro Munoz, Brian Miles, Ethan Vidal

From left, Alvaro Munoz, Brian Miles and Ethan Vidal sit at Pickles Pub near Camden Yards watching the Orioles lose to the Rays, 4-1, in the regular-season finale. (Baltimore Sun photo by Gene Sweeney Jr. / October 3, 2012)

The Orioles have known since Sunday night that they were playoff-bound. On Wednesday night, they finally learned whom they'll play.

The club will begin its first postseason in 15 years at 8:37 p.m. Friday in Arlington, Texas, where the Orioles will have to win a wild-card game against the Rangers to keep their season alive.

If the Orioles win Friday night, they'll begin the American League Division Series at home Sunday against the New York Yankees.

The Orioles cost themselves home-field advantage in the wild-card round with a 4-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday night, surrendering three home runs to third baseman Evan Longoria.

The Orioles will face a Rangers team that lost seven of its last nine regular-season games to forfeit a once-substantial lead in the AL West. But Texas, which has been to the past two World Series, won five of seven against the Orioles this season.

As it turned out, the Orioles could not have forced an AL East tiebreaker even with a victory because the Yankees pummeled the Boston Red Sox, 14-2, on Wednesday night.

The night's developments didn't unfold as Orioles fans had hoped.

Ethan Vidal, 24, a Severna Park native who recently moved from Fells Point to Miami and was in town watching the game at Pickles Pub near Oriole Park, was hoping for an Orioles win and a Yankees loss, which would have led to a one-game playoff between the teams tonight at Camden Yards.

“That would have been an awesome way to start the weekend, an awesome way to end the season,” he said.

But even though that didn't work out, Vidal sees the season as a success.

“This is only bringing more attention to Baltimore on the national stage,” he said. “Everyone's tired of hearing about the Yankees and Red Sox and the big-money teams. People are excited for Baltimore.

“No matter what happens this year, this year wasn't expected. It came as a surprise, but it's going to carry into next year. There's going to be so much more enthusiasm.”

Brian Miles, 27, a Columbia native who lives in Canton, was happy to at least be watching a meaningful game.

“Just last week, I realized I don't even remember the Orioles being relevant in September,” said Miles, who also watched at Pickles. “It's single-handedly the most I've talked about the Orioles in September cumulatively in 15 years.”

A group of Ridgely's Delight Association members had gathered at Pickles to have a quick meeting and then watch the game.

Chris Conlon, president of the community association, said he grew up as an Army brat, but his dad took him to an Orioles game when he was 5 years old. As his family moved from post to post, he kept up with the team. Conlon moved in 2001 to Ridgely's Delight, he said, “to be close to the Orioles, and it's taken this long to get to the playoffs.”

“The season's been so magical, while tonight's a little disappointing, I hope it's still alive,” Conlon said.

Karin Lundquist, another member of the association, said of Wednesday's loss: “I think it's OK. We're still proud of them.”

Robert Lapin, another group member, said he graduated from Mount St. Joseph in 1997, so he had good memories of that year's team with his high school buddies. After high school, Lapin went into the Army for six years, then did contract work. He returned from Iraq as a civilian in 2010.