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Friday Bird Droppings: Your Baltimore Orioles are alone in first place

Drink it in, O’s fans.

Baltimore Orioles v Tampa Bay Rays
Tally the first game-winning RBI of Colton Cowser’s career.
Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

Actually, make that a great morning, Camden Chatters. It’s July 20 and the Baltimore Orioles are alone in first place in the American League East.

This is not a drill. This is not wishful thinking. It’s real, and it’s spectacular.

Last night’s opener of this pivotal four-game, first-place showdown between the Orioles and Rays was exactly the kind of knockdown, back-and-forth melee you would expect from the two best teams in the AL. The O’s hustled their way to a three-run rally against an otherwise dominant Tyler Glasnow. Kyle Gibson delivered one of his finest outings of the year before the Rays tied it late against the bullpen. Ramón Urías saved the game with spectacular defense in the eighth. Scuffling rookie Colton Cowser delivered the game-winning sac fly in the 10th. And Félix Bautista was his usual dominant self, working two sensational innings to nail down the win and officially move the Birds ahead of the Rays in the standings. There was no shortage of heroes, and Tyler Young’s recap has all the details.

This is the first time since Aug. 12, 2016 that the O’s have had sole possession of first place. They’re back up to a season-high 22 games over .500. They have — at least for now — overtaken the once invincible Rays, who began the season with 13 straight wins and hold the best home record in baseball.

The O’s and Rays have another three games to play in this series, and if last night was any indication, this will be a roller coaster of a series that could end with either team on top. The Orioles’ stint in first place could last the rest of the season — or it could vanish tonight. There’s no rest for the weary.

Buckle your seatbelts, folks. It’s going to be a wild ride.


Orioles take over first place in AL East with win over Rays -
I was skeptical of Brandon Hyde’s decision to play for one run in the 10th, but I should have known that Félix would make that lead hold up. He’s a pretty good pitcher, if you haven’t heard.

Answers to your Orioles questions, Part 1 -
Asked about the O’s trading for Shohei Ohtani, Rich Dubroff opines that the cost would likely be too high for a two-month rental. I mean, sure, that’s the logical answer. But if I may present a counterargument: OMG SHOHEI OHTANI ON THE ORIOLES WOULD BE THE AWESOMEST THING EVER AND I WOULD TRADE EVERY PROSPECT AND ALL MY WORLDLY POSSESSIONS FOR HIM

Pregame notes on Fujinami, important series and more - School of Roch
Newly acquired reliever Shintaro Fujinami has not yet arrived to the Orioles. Can’t help feeling like the O’s could have used his help last night as an overworked Yennier Cano gave up the lead.

Dan Rodricks: Now translating for the Orioles, 23-year-old Brandon Quinones | COMMENTARY - Baltimore Sun
It’s not just the players who are crushing it for the Orioles this year. Meet the team’s MVT (most valuable translator), Brandon Quinones.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Five former Orioles were born on July 21, including Orioles Hall of Famer Mike Bordick (58); left-hander Wei-Yin Chen (38); righties Mark Williamson (64) and Willie Eyre (45); and the late Moe Drabowsky (b. 1935, d. 2006), the righty reliever and noted prankster who pitched for two O’s World Series champions.

On this day in 1990, former #1 overall pick Ben McDonald dazzled in his first major league start, pitching a four-hit shutout against the White Sox. He became the first AL pitcher in 15 years to throw a shutout in his first MLB start. McDonald’s first 12 major league games had come in relief, but after that dazzling starting debut, he was a starter in all but one of his final 199 career games.

And on this date in 1996, the Orioles reunited with Hall of Famer Eddie Murray, the O’s legend whose sensational career with the club had ended on a sour note when they traded him eight years earlier. The Birds sent pitcher Kent Mercker to Cleveland to bring Murray back to Baltimore, and he hit his 500th career home run in front of the home fans later that season.

Random Orioles game of the day

The random number generator spit out the number 1957, which means we actually have two random games for the price of one, since the Orioles played a doubleheader on this date that year. (That was back when scheduled doubleheaders were commonplace; it was already their 12th twin bill of that season.)

The O’s split the two games with the Athletics at Kansas City’s Municipal Stadium. The Birds won the opener, 7-2, behind a complete game by Hal “Skinny” Brown. Orioles cleanup man Tito Francona was a triple shy of the cycle, driving in three runs, while backup catcher Joe Ginsberg hit his first (and only) homer of the year. The O’s dropped the nightcap, 3-2, with solo homers by Bob Nieman and Hall of Famer George Kell providing their only runs. The two games combined to last just four and a half hours.