Miley, 'pen struggle as catwalk comes into play

Miley, 'pen struggle as catwalk comes into play

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays played like a team still in the playoff hunt while taking a 7-0 win over the Orioles on Friday night at Tropicana Field.

Both teams were recently eliminated from playoff contention, leaving the American League East rivals to play a three-game series this weekend with little on the line other than pride. That seemed to be ample motivation for the Rays, who played one of their better games of late.

"They've got pride," said Rays manager Kevin Cash about his team. "Their effort has not been questioned throughout this year. We have had plenty of rough patches -- more than we'd like to have, but the effort of these guys is something you can hang your hat on and be proud about."

Longoria's RBI forceout

Evan Longoria grounded into a bases-loaded fielder's choice to score Daniel Robertson and give the Rays a 1-0 lead in the third. That run turned out to be all the Rays needed as Rays' pitching silenced the Orioles' bats while the offense continued to add to the lead.

The Rays scored twice in the fourth, with some help from Tropicana Field's catwalk. Leadoff batter Cesar Puello's popup in front of home plate struck a catwalk, then dodged the glove of diving catcher Welington Castillo. One out later, Curt Casali singled to right and Brad Miller walked to load the bases for Robertson, who drew a walk to force home Puello. Peter Bourjos added a sacrifice fly to put the Rays up, 3-0.

Morrison's 38th home run

Longoria hit a solo homer in the fifth off Wade Miley and Logan Morrison added a solo shot to ignite a three-run seventh, pushing the Rays' lead to 5-0.

Jake Odorizzi started for the Rays, but could not pitch the fifth due to a sore right knee, preventing him from getting the decision. Brad Boxberger was awarded the win from the group of four relievers who followed Odorizzi.

"I think if you look back at the game film, you'd see that [the staff was] attacking guys," Casali said. "Not really beating around the bush, going after guys. [Odorizzi] had that rhythm going today. Unfortunately he had to leave early, but he set the tone for the guys coming behind him."

Machado's nice backhanded play

Added Orioles manager Buck Showalter: "I'm going to give them credit. They pitched well. We're not swinging the bats very well. That's been obvious for a while here. It's that time of year. September, you get a lot of different looks."

Miley took the loss, his 15th of the season, in what could be his Orioles finale. The lefty has a $12 million team option for 2018.

"I have no idea," Miley said of his future. "I'm just going to look forward to the offseason. It's been a long year, no doubt. I hated that I didn't perform here. Who knows what's going to happen? I competed, looking back, I gave it everything I had, it just wasn't very good. It's one of those things where nobody wants to go through that. I did, and hopefully I can learn from it and move forward."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Another 20 for Longo: When Longoria homered off Miley, the solo shot gave him his 20th of the season while also giving him at least 20 home runs for the fifth consecutive season and nine in his first 10 seasons. Of note, only one American League third baseman has had nine 20-home run seasons at any point in his career: Graig Nettles. More >

Longoria's solo home run

Kittredge to the rescue: The Orioles threatened for the first time in the seventh when Jonathan Schoop walked to lead off the inning against Ryne Stanek and Trey Mancini singled to left, extending his hitting streak to 17 games and prompting manager Kevin Cash to bring in Andrew Kittredge to face Castillo. The Rays' four-run lead appeared in jeopardy until Kittredge caught Castillo looking at strike three to end the inning.

Kittredge gets out of trouble

"I just wanted to be aggressive with the lead like that," Kittredge said. "The last thing you want to do is allow something to spiral out. I don't want to walk that guy. I don't want to give up free bases. … Just really trying to eliminate a free pass in that situation."

QUOTABLE
"I think if you ask anybody in here who you want up with the game on the line, they'd want him. He battles. And I don't think he's felt great at the plate all year long. But to be able to put the numbers up he has is pretty impressive. It just goes to show you that he's a baseball player. I don't know how else to describe him." -- Morrison, on Longoria

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Mancini now has the longest hitting streak by an Orioles rookie in club history (he had previously set the mark with 16) and the longest by any rookie this season. His 17-game hitting streak is also tied for fifth among hitting streaks this season by any MLB hitter (three had 19, one had 21).

Odorizzi has made consecutive starts without allowing a homer for the first time since July 22-Aug. 3, 2016.

CATWALK CHAOS
Puello gave the Rays a leadoff runner in the fourth inning on an unusual play. Puello's ball hit the stairway between two rings at Tropicana Field, with the high popup ruled to be an infield single. Showalter came out to discuss the play, conferring for several minutes with the umpiring crew, which verified the high popup was a fair ball. Puello came around to score that inning. More >

Puello's strange single

WHAT'S NEXT
Orioles: Miguel Castro will get the ball for his first career big league start on Saturday at 6:10 p.m. ET against the Rays at Tropicana Field. Castro has been impressive in the bullpen and is 3-2 with a 3.29 ERA on the season.

Rays: Chris Archer (9-12, 4.18 ERA) makes his final start of the season Saturday. The right-hander has taken a loss in his last five starts. He is 0-5 with a 9.72 ERA in September and is 4-8 with a 5.08 ERA in 16 career appearances (15 starts) against the Orioles.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.