Baltimore Orioles

Orioles lose season finale, 5-4, to Red Sox on Rafael Devers’ bizarre walk-off single

Boston — There are plenty of things the Orioles will want to carry over beyond the 2019 season that ended Sunday.

Losses like this, a 5-4 defeat to the Boston Red Sox that denied the Orioles (54-108) their first series sweep of the season, will not be counted among those things.


For the last time but certainly not the first, an Orioles lead disappeared once the bullpen door swung open, and even a late rally to tie the game and a fabulous catch by Stevie Wilkerson to rob a go-ahead home run in the eighth inning couldn’t swing things back their way.

Mookie Betts singled and scored from first for the winning run in the bottom of the ninth on a confusing Rafael Devers single to right field off Dillon Tate to end it.


“We play with a ton of heart, bounce back like we normally do, and just fall a little bit short — which we’ve done so many times this year,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “I’m proud of our guys. Proud of the effort. Love the way we played this series. Even though that team’s not going to the playoffs, it’s still a really good team and a really good lineup, and we faced a guy going for his 20th win today. They had the varsity club in there trying to get it for him, and we just did a great job of competing.”

Even as the Orioles denied former farmhand Eduardo Rodriguez his 20th win, the bizarre end to the game on a single through the shift into shallow center field spoiled what could have been an uplifting end to the season for them.

“I think that second hop took a funny hop on Richie [Martin], it really boomeranged,” Hyde said. It was a tough play for him, and Wilkerson was playing no-doubles, playing a little deeper than normal. He had to sprint in, and Mookie with a really instinctual play. He’s a great player, great instincts. Hopefully, we’ll learn from that and get the ball in a little quicker. Hats off to them, and hats off to Mookie for making a really good play."

Said Wilkerson: “I’ve got to do a better job of picking it up and just getting the ball in. Obviously, it’s something I’ll learn from but not the way you want to end it.”

The Orioles (54-108) had rallied for a 4-4 tie in the eighth thanks to an RBI single by Jonathan Villar. Evan Phillips, who escaped a bases-loaded, no-outs jam in the sixth, allowed a run in the seventh.

What a catch

Austin Hays spent the past two weeks as the shoo-in winner for catch of the year, but Wilkerson came up with a big one of his own to give him some competition. With the game tied and two outs in the eighth inning, Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a deep drive to right field that Wilkerson tracked to the wall and jumped into it for a game-saving catch.

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Hyde said he “couldn’t believe it” when Wilkerson lifted his glove up to show he had the ball.

“I thought that ball was 30 rows in off the bat,” Hyde said. “I just put my head down, and then I see him like tracking it, and I’m kind of waiting for him to fall over into the bullpen or into the crowd, thinking he had no chance at it. All of a sudden, he comes out of it with the ball. It was just one of the better catches I’ve ever seen.”


Said Wilkerson: “When I was tracking it down, I had a bead on it, so I knew if I had the space to get to it, I’d have a chance to get it. But going back on them, you never know if you’re gonna get beat by the wall or not. But I had a good bead on it and just jumped up and grabbed it.”

Wilkerson had a difficult day in right field dealing with the sun earlier in the day, but his catch certainly made up for most of what preceded it.

Shepherd shows off

Orioles starting pitcher Chandler Shepherd, a former Red Sox farmhand who stalled out at Triple-A with Boston, got the chance to pitch at Fenway Park and didn’t disappoint. He allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits, with one walk and six strikeouts.

He retired the first seven batters he faced before Wilkerson lost a ball in the sun in right field that went for a triple by Gorkys Hernández that set off a two-run third inning. His only walk was to Xander Bogaerts leading off the sixth inning, ending Shepherd’s day. Bogaerts came around as the tying run with Shawn Armstrong on in relief.

Two more for Martin

Shortstop Richie Martin ended his first major league season with back-to-back multi-hit games, solidifying a surprisingly strong second half. Martin was batting .166 with a .507 OPS in the first half, and his two hits Sunday improved his second-half line to .284 with a .713 OPS.