. fast facts
Rays-Orioles by the numbers
9 Pitchers used by Rays, tying team record.
13 Consecutive extra-inning wins by Orioles.
26 Players used by Rays, team-record, most in AL game since 1972 (Oakland, 30).
20-26 Record for Rays in one-run games.
454 Total pitches thrown by both teams.
5:14 Length of game.
BALTIMORE — There was no faulting the effort the Rays provided in Thursday's 3-2, 14-inning, five-plus-hour walkoff loss to the Orioles. Nor the creativity, including summoning a pitcher from the bullpen to finish an at-bat, and shifting to a five-man infield. And certainly not the entertainment, a thrilling and dramatic contest that came down to the last of the 454 pitches, for those who could see it on TV, with the final hit bouncing off their leftfielder's glove.
But the stark reality of the result was an issue: a third straight loss to the Orioles that dropped the Rays (77-66) a season-high four games out of an AL playoff berth with less than three weeks left to play.
"It's too late," Rays third baseman Evan Longoria said. "I don't want to say we have time, because we don't have time. We don't have time to lose any more games, especially one-run games when we have opportunities. We've got to start saying that now. Realistically, we may have a few we can lose here and there, but we've got to have the mentality of going out and winning every game."
That crusade resumes tonight on baseball's biggest stage, Yankee Stadium, and it will be a challenge for the Rays to put Thursday's loss behind them.
After all that happened, highlighted by a stellar four-inning relief outing by rookie Chris Archer, who actually entered the game first as a hitter when Ryan Roberts was injured during an 11th-inning at-bat, the end was odd and even a bit uncertain.
With runners on first and second after Archer walked Adam Jones with two outs in the 14th and gave up a single to Endy Chavez, rookie Manny Machado lined a ball to shallow left.
Matt Joyce came in and dove for it, but the ball disappeared under him. As he lay motionless, there was a split second of uncertainty on the field, in the dugouts and among the crowd before the umpire signaled it was a hit, launching another celebration for the Orioles and another slow walk off the field for the Rays.
Joyce couldn't re-create the play specifically, but his best guess was the ball hit the heel of his glove and the ground at the same time. He figured he missed the ball by less than an inch.
"Honestly, I don't even know if it was underneath my glove or what," he said. "I know it hit my glove on the bottom. It was hard to tell exactly what happened. The only thing I can tell you is that I didn't come up with it."
As many unexpected things that happened throughout the afternoon, the script for the Rays was actually familiar: They pitched well, they didn't hit enough and they lost a close game, their American League-most 26th by one run, and the 13th of their last 16.
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"It's the same old story," manager Joe Maddon said. "We just can't score enough runs."
Which meant not doing much of anything after they scratched out the tying run in the eighth, when Desmond Jennings walked, went to second on a passed ball, stole third and scored on a two-out 30-foot squibber by Ben Zobrist. Which was after the Orioles scored two in the seventh — helped by reliever Wade Davis mishandling a bunt — to go ahead. Which was after the Rays had taken a 1-0 lead in the fourth.
They had all of two hits and an intentional walk from the ninth through the 13th, then one promising opportunity in the 14th after singles by Jeff Keppinger with one out and Jose Molina with two, but Joyce struck out.
"We just have been unable to get a hit in that part of the game," Maddon said. "We've had opportunities, and we just are unable. It's purely that simple."
And, based on the look and the sound of their clubhouse, painfully that obvious.