Orioles, Rays clinch playoff berths, but Adley Rutschman-led rally puts O's in much stronger AL East position

The Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles each clinched a postseason berth with the Rangers’ Sunday loss to the Guardians. Neither the Rays nor Orioles are content with “merely” protecting a wild-card berth, nevertheless, as the American League East title still hangs in the balance. Speaking of which, the Orioles struck a blow on Sunday with a back-and-forth triumph at Camden Yards by a rating of 5-4 in 11 innings.

The win suggests the Orioles — who are back in the playoffs for the very first time given that 2016 — divided the essential four-game series and hold a two-game lead atop the AL East standings. The Orioles likewise own the head-to-head tiebreaker by winning the season series, and basically have a three-game lead in the department.

Sunday’s video game was a pitcher’s battle for much of the afternoon, as ball game was connected 1-1 entering into the 8th. With one out in the leading half of the frame, nevertheless, Tristan Gray struck the very first crowning achievement of his major-league profession. The next guy up for Tampa Bay, Christian Bethancourt, made it 3-1 Rays with a crowning achievement of his own. 

Baltimore’s All-Star catcher Adley Rutschman cut the margin to one run with a homer in the bottom of the 8th. In the ninth, the O’s had the ability to require bonus with a set of two-out hits. 

The Rays plated the automated runner in the top of the 10th, and with 2 outs in the bottom half the O’s were as soon as again on the brink of defeat. Also as soon as again, Rutschman came through with the clutch hit: 

In the 11th, the Orioles kept the Rays off the board in the top of the frame, thanks in part to a clever play at 3rd base by Gunnar Henderson. The O’s won it in the bottom of the 11th on a Cedric Mullins sac fly that scored Rutschman.

The Rays and O’s are the very first American League groups to clinch a postseason berth and the 3rd and 4th groups in general, signing up with the NL East champ Atlanta Braves and NL West champ Los Angeles Dodgers. This is Tampa’s 5th successive postseason berth and the ninth in franchise history. The Rays lost the World Series in 2008 and 2020. They have actually never ever made it out of the Division Series otherwise.

Tampa opened the season with a historical 13-game winning streak. The Rays are 80-57 ever since, which is a 95-win rate in a 162-game schedule, and they are 24-9 in their last 33 video games. The Rays remained in top place from Opening Day through July 18, and as just recently as Sept. 9, they were 4 video games back of the O’s in the department. They comprised a great deal of ground in a brief amount of time.

As for the Orioles, their playoff dry spell given that 2016 had actually been the fifth-longest in all of baseball. Following that last postseason look, the club carried out a tear-down that took them to honestly embarrassing depths, much of it under basic supervisor Mike Elias. Elias was employed following the Orioles’ 115-loss season in 2018. 

Over the next 3 seasons, a stretch that consists of the shortened 2020 project, the O’s went 131-253 (.341 winning portion) and for a four-year stretch selected no lower than 5th total in the draft. That succession of high choices and extra consumption of young skill yielded a powerhouse farm system. That young skill base — led by Rutschman and Rookie of the Year frontrunner Gunnar Henderson — has actually shown up in the majors and forms the structure of what appears like an enduring window of contention in Baltimore regardless of ownership’s extremely restricted desire to purchase lineup enhancements. 

The stakes stay high in the AL East race. The winner of the department will most likely declare the top-overall seed in the AL side of the bracket and therefore a Wild Card Series bye and home-field benefit through a minimum of the Championship Series. The runner-up, meantime, should play in the best-of-three Wild Card Series that operates as the opening round of the MLB playoffs. 

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