The Orioles arrived at the ballpark Thursday needing starting pitcher Chris Tillman to be the same guy who has thrown his body in front of just about every kind of adversity the team has faced over the course of this season.
What they didn't need at this time of crisis was for Tillman to show such a lack of command that it was hard not to wonder whether he really is completely healthy.
The Orioles tried to rally, but who were they kidding? The Red Sox simply kept the heat on and completed the devastating four-game sweep with a 5-3 victory before 26,788 at Camden Yards that knocked the Orioles a half-game out of the second wild-card spot.
Tillman came back from a three-week battle with bursitis in his pitching shoulder to deliver a pair of solid starts, but he struggled with his command and allowed eight of the 13 batters he faced to reach base. When he walked back-to-back hitters with two outs in the second to force home the third Red Sox run, manager Buck Showalter had seen enough.
Showalter brought on long reliever Vance Worley, who got out of the jam and worked 3 1/3 solid innings while the Orioles tried to figure out Price.
They'll probably have to ask rookie Trey Mancini, who got them back into the game with a game-tying three-run home run in the third and tried to help overcome a one-run Red Sox lead with a leadoff double in the sixth, but didn't get any farther than second base.
Price completed seven innings and allowed those three runs on six hits and two walks. He's now 17-8 with a 3.91 ERA.
Mancini's three-run blast single-handedly ended a string of five games in which the Orioles had scored two runs or fewer, but the Red Sox's late-season roll was not to be stopped. They have won eight straight games since Kevin Gausman shut them out on Sept. 14 at Fenway Park. The Orioles, meanwhile, have lost six of eight and now are fighting for their postseason life.
Big Papi's retirement present
The Orioles honored retiring Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz with a joke gift and a charitable donation during a brief pregame ceremony Thursday. The club attached the telephone box that Ortiz destroyed in an infamous 2013 dugout tirade to a wooden plaque. Adam Jones delivered it to Ortiz, who can mount it in his trophy room and attack it anytime he wants. The club also made a $10,000 donation in Ortiz's name to the World Pediatric Project, which helps critically ill children in his native Dominican Republic.
Mancini's power trip
Mancini, a late call-up made his second start of the season Thursday and mashed his second home run – the three-run shot off Price in the third inning bringing the Orioles back from an early 3-0 deficit. The crowd clamored for Mancini to take his second curtain call in two starts, but he remained in the dugout. One curtain call in a losing streak apparently is enough. But just to show it was no fluke, Mancini doubled off Price in his next at-bat.