It was a tall task Tuesday night as a resurgent Orioles squad, which stole the show in the series opener, fell, 5-0, to give Tampa Bay and a more respectable crowd of 17,891 at Tropicana Field reason for a curtain call.
O's starter Brad Bergesen allowed five earned runs on six hits to grant the Rays their second playoff berth in three seasons, a celebration that the Orioles -- sans a few stray players -- wanted no part of watching.
"It's not me celebrating, so why the [heck] would I want to watch somebody else celebrate?" said center fielder Adam Jones, whose swinging strikeout put an emphatic end on the fateful evening.
"We all know what winning is like," Jones added. "Probably not at this level, but we all know what winning is like. We don't want to have to watch somebody else win to know what it is like."
Still, there were positives in the Orioles -- who fell to 30-22 under manager Buck Showalter -- getting a firsthand glimpse of a postseason celebration by an organization that is just three years removed from a 90-loss season.
"You see the emotion and release of a lot of pent-up things," Showalter said. "But I want our guys to understand that this was an organization that not very long ago wasn't nearly as successful as where they are perceived right now."
Bergesen, who turned in his shortest stint since July 26, agreed that in hindsight, Tuesday's loss was one that could serve as motivation.
"It's never a position you want to be in," said Bergesen, who struggled with his command all evening. "[But] I think it can do us a little bit of good, seeing that [celebration] and knowing what we want to do next year."
But it didn't make it any easier to digest the outing in its immediacy as Bergesen, who entered Tuesday with a 2.31 ERA in his previous 10 starts, said it was a performance he would just like to forget.
"I just wasn't able to locate anything, and my changeup just wasn't there," said Bergesen, who issued three walks to the first six batters he faced. "And when you are facing seven out of nine left-handers, that becomes a real problem."
Showalter has referenced the O's young starters working on defending themselves from the opposing side of the plate and said Bergesen's limited repertoire prevented him from keeping the Rays, who clubbed a pair of homers, off-balance at all.
"His tempo was good and everything, you could just tell he didn't have a real confident front about what he was featuring," Showalter said of Bergesen, who fell to 0-4 with a 9.00 ERA in four starts against Tampa Bay.
As uncomfortable as Bergesen looked, the O's hitters were even more off-balance, as Price struck out eight over his eight scoreless innings, cruising through a lineup without regulars Brian Roberts -- a late scratch with an illness -- Luke Scott and Felix Pie.
"When he first came up, it was straight and he let it go, and people would hit that," Jones said of Price, who extended his club record to 19 wins. "Now, he's basically pitching from 90 to 96 [mph]. He's good. He's figuring out what he's doing."
Price, who improved to 4-0 with a 1.95 ERA in five starts against Baltimore, pitched out of his only jam in the fourth. In that frame, the Orioles put a pair of runners on courtesy of singles by Nick Markakis and Jake Fox sandwiched around Ty Wigginton's liner to right field. But Price struck out Jones on three pitches and got Matt Wieters on an inning-ending flyout.
The game turned uglier in the top of the fifth after second baseman Julio Lugo was ejected by home-plate umpire Joe West following his inning-ending strikeout.
"He probably thought I was mad at him, and I wasn't mad at him," Lugo said. "I was just mad at myself because I let that pitch go by."
Lugo, a last-minute addition with Roberts' scratch, went down looking on strikes, prompting him to spike his helmet into the ground and toss his batting glove to the side as he walked out to the field, prepared to go to second. But West had seen enough and handed Lugo his first ejection of the season.
"I was surprised," said Lugo, who walked off after Showalter came out of the dugout to debate the decision. "I didn't say anything [to West]. He didn't say anything to me. I don't think it's the first time I've thrown my stuff. I've been fined before, but he took the decision to throw me out."
It was one less Oriole on hand to witness the smiles, laughter and cheers, none of which were intended for them.
"Nobody wants to see it, but it happens," said Jones. "A lot of respect to [the Rays]. They deserve it."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.