ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The Baltimore Orioles are headed to Texas. They really wanted to be going home.
When they began Wednesday night's game they knew they had to beat the Tampa Bay Rays to secure a home playoff game and as a bonus, hope that the New York Yankees would lose to the Boston Red Sox.
The Orioles lost to Tampa Bay 4-1 before 17,909 at Tropicana Field, and that clinched the AL East for the Yankees. New York trounced Boston 14-2.
Since the Oakland Athletics swept the Texas Rangers, swiping the AL West title, Baltimore has to play Friday night at Arlington, Texas.
"They'll let it rip in Texas and it won't be from timidness," manager Buck Showalter.
Showalter would dearly loved to have gotten a home game in the playoffs.
"We still have that opportunity," Showalter said.
"We could also win one game. I'm looking at half full. We've got an opportunity, and it's there for us in nine innings."
The Orioles (93-69) lost two of three to Tampa Bay (90-72) and got just five hits in the last two games.
To some, it looked as if Baltimore hitters were pressing, but not to Adam Jones.
"When you look at it, man, the Rays have the best pitching in the AL. It's not pressing. Those guys are actually good," Jones said.
Chris Tillman (9-3) allowed three home runs in five innings, two to Evan Longoria, who added a third against Jake Arrieta in the sixth, and another to Ryan Roberts.
"I didn't make my pitches," Tillman said. "I should have been better."
Through eight innings, the Orioles had just a fourth-inning single by Jones.
Baltimore scored a run in the ninth on a sacrifice fly by Jones.
Now, the challenge is the Rangers, who beat Baltimore in five of seven games and outscored the Orioles 56-24.
"We are just going to hang our heads and mope into Texas," Chris Davis said jokingly. "Of course we're excited. This is the first time this team has been to the postseason in 15 years. This organization has to be excited."
Jeremy Hellickson (10-11) allowed just one hit in 5 1/3 innings. Against Tampa Bay starters, the Orioles had just five hits in 21 1/3 innings, batting just .071.
"I saw evidence of good pitching. We shouldn't feel like Tampa is picking on us. They've got two guys, some people would tell you three guys, worthy of the Cy Young Award," Showalter said.
"It's this time of year, when pitching is on top of its game and hitters are on top of their game, pitching wins. When people say it's not about pitching, trust me, the people who are playing this time of the year starting Friday, it's because of their pitching."
Baltimore has to hope its hitting improves in Friday's game, which will start at 8:37 p.m.
"We have no choice. You don't hit and you go home. It's win or go home. It's not a maybe thing. It's win or go home. Both teams know that," Jones said.
Showalter hasn't named his starter. It could be Joe Saunders, who's 0-6 with a 9.38 ERA in Arlington. It also could be Steve Johnson, who probably would have started the tiebreaker against the Yankees today if it were necessary.
Fernando Rodney got his 48th save of the season in the ninth.
NOTES: Brian Roberts was with the Orioles this series. As the postseason begins, he said that he was disappointed to miss his first chance at one after 11 losing seasons. Roberts is rehabbing from August surgery on his right hip. "It's great, but it's hard at the same time," Roberts said. It's ironic, he said, that Nick Markakis and he, the two most senior Orioles are not going to playing. "I think we both feel we've been a part of getting there," Roberts said. "Unfortunately, we're not on the field for it." ... Jones became the first Orioles player to appear in all 162 games since Miguel Tejada did it in 2006.