As exciting as last night was - and boy, it was exciting - there's a lot of baseball left to be played. Tied for first place on September 4th is like finding an oasis in the desert for Orioles fans, but you don't want to live in that oasis forever. You've got to slog back through the desert to get to the end of the journey.
That tie may not last the night. The Yankees best starting pitcher, Hiroki Kuroda, is pitching in Tampa Bay, and the O's themselves will be facing a pretty good starting pitcher in Brandon Morrow, who's thrown three complete game shutouts this year. That's nothing to sneeze at. Neither is a 2.93 ERA or a .209 batting average against, nor a 1.06 WHIP. And perhaps the offense used up its run allotment for the series last night. Do the Blue Jays have the resilience to rally behind their best pitcher and come out swinging for pride? They certainly seemed to have checked out of last night's game, with MASN play-by-play man Gary Thorne musing philosophically on human nature as he observed, "The Blue Jays ... are done."
It's up to Miguel Gonzalez to do the best he can to keep the game close as they face Morrow. If you watched him on August 31 as he blanked New York for seven innings in the Bronx and struck out nine batters, you might feel pretty good about his chances. I'm tempted to say I feel pretty good about his chances, which still sounds crazy to me - but then, crazy is the order of the day. It's September, and the Orioles, these Orioles, are tied for first place. We are 14 wins away from dan o'hare-ville, with 27 games to play. That's a 14-13 record that's all that stands between us and the crowning of the true prophet of our time. It's not a guarantee, but it sure looks a heck of a lot more possible than I believed it did in April.
The journey continues tonight. In the distance those Yankees loom once more - a four-game series that is on its way to being sell-out territory. That's in Baltimore, no less. There can be no looking past this game tonight, however. With the upcoming Yankee invasion, it's all the more important to get the win against a gravy team, if possible. Pulling off the sweep in another city is always difficult, even when the team is bad.
Yesterday's key stat is still in effect. In their last 37 games the Orioles have 20 quality starts. They are 18-2 in those games. There is the key to every game, it seems. Solid effort from your own starter, get into the bullpen against the other starter. Morrow may not be the easiest to do this against. Perhaps the O's will find a way, and perhaps there will be another reason to celebrate tonight.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||TORONTO BLUE JAYS|
|Nick Markakis - RF||Rajai Davis - LF|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Colby Rasmus - CF|
|Nate McLouth - LF||Edwin Encarnacion - 1B|
|Adam Jones - CF||Adam Lind - DH|
|Matt Wieters - C||Yunel Escobar - SS|
|Chris Davis - DH||Kelly Johnson - 2B|
|Mark Reynolds - 1B||Yorvit Torrealba - C|
|Omar Quintanilla - 2B||Adeiny Hechavarria - 3B|
|Manny Machado - 3B||Anthony Gose - RF|