BALTIMORE – On the last day of the regular season, David Ortiz arrived at the ballpark wearing a white shirt with a pink floral design and a white coat with a bright red handkerchief stuffed in the pocket.
His Boston Red Sox teammates teased away, saying he looked like a waiter or a wedding guest, but the slugger would have none of it.
“You guys are always waiting for the best-looking guy on the team, right?” he said when reporters surrounded his locker.
Ortiz is all dressed up and has a place to go. The Red Sox wrapped up the regular season Sunday with a 7-6 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, a game that had an exhibition feel for the AL East champions as they look ahead to the playoffs.
“We are right where we need to be,” Ortiz said. “You want to make sure that you’re in the playoffs, and now it’s all about surviving.”
The Red Sox finished 97-65, tied with the St. Louis Cardinals for the best record in baseball. Boston will open its division series at Fenway Park on Friday against the winner of the AL’s wild-card playoff, a layoff so long that Manager John Farrell is planning simulated games for Wednesday’s workout.
“I think everybody’s anticipating Friday, but we’ve still got some work to do before we get there,” Farrell said, “whether that’s finding out who we’re going to play, but, more importantly, to continue to address not only the roster internally, but the work that we need to stay as sharp as possible.”
Making liberal use of the bench and bullpen with home-field advantage in the postseason already clinched, the Red Sox blew a 5-0 lead and used seven pitchers. Rubby De La Rosa (0-2) gave up Baltimore’s go-ahead run in the sixth.
T.J. McFarland (4-1), the second of four Orioles pitchers, threw one scoreless inning for the win.
Jim Johnson worked the ninth for his 50th save. The Red Sox had men on first and third with one out when Will Middlebrooks ended the game by hitting into a 5-4-3 double play.
Johnson, who had 51 saves last year, became the second player in major league history with back-to-back 50-save seasons, joining Eric Gagne, who had 52 in 2002 and 55 in 2003.
The Orioles finished 85-77, giving them back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1996-97, an achievement that hardly tempers the disappointment of not repeating last year’s run to the playoffs.
The final blow came when Chris Davis sprained his left wrist in the fourth inning on a play at first base. X-rays were negative, but the injury ended his season a couple of hours earlier than expected. The player who accepted the Orioles’ MVP award before the game walked off to a standing ovation, finishing tops in the majors in both homers (53) and RBI (138).
“Nothing serious, no broken bones, no fractures, just sprained my wrist,” Davis said. “They said it would probably be sore for a few days.”
Davis was hurt on a nubber by Jacoby Ellsbury. The ball stopped only a few feet in front of home plate, and catcher Steve Clevenger’s throw hit Ellsbury on the left side of the back just as Ellsbury was arriving at the bag. Davis’ attempt to catch the ball left his outstretched hand in the path of Ellsbury’s torso.
“We dodged a bullet there, hopefully,” Baltimore Manager Buck Showalter said. “Next week or two passes and he’s still got problems, we’ll go into more detail with it.”
Davis’ sub, Ryan Flaherty, (of Portland) picked up the slack, hitting an RBI single in a five-run fifth and a run-scoring double when the Orioles took the lead for good in the sixth.