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Orioles wake up Saturday morning to a first place position in AL East

BaseballMajor League BaseballBaltimore OriolesBoston Red SoxMiguel GonzalezFenway ParkToronto Blue Jays

Rest assured, there were plenty of “Do Not Disturb” signs hanging from doors in the Orioles' team hotel Friday.

The early postponement of Friday afternoon’s game in Boston allowed the Orioles, who arrived here around 4 a.m., to go back to bed and get some much-needed sleep. And since the announcement of today's split-admission doubleheader was made three hours before game time, the Orioles didn’t even have to come to Fenway Park — the team bus hadn’t left for the ballpark yet.

And, no, you’re not dreaming: The Orioles are in first place in the American League East.

The best news of the day for Orioles fans was that the club didn’t need to play to take sole possession of first in the division. The Toronto Blue Jays lost to the Oakland Athletics, 1-0, on Nick Punto’s walk-off double, meaning the Orioles open the day with a half-game lead over Toronto, which has lost four of its past six games and 16 of its past 25.

So, for all that hasn’t gone right this season — the season-ending injury to catcher Matt Wieters, the struggles of All-Stars Chris Davis and Manny Machado, a starting rotation that had its share of warts, and a once-uncertain closer situation — the Orioles are in first place.

Believe it.

Doubleheaders are difficult to sweep, but the Orioles have a chance to move two games ahead of Toronto with two wins today and another Blue Jays loss in Oakland.

OK, we're getting ahead of ourselves.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter hasn’t been shy to talk about his frustration with the club's schedule. The last time the Orioles came to Boston, they played a "Sunday Night Baseball" game at 7 p.m., then had an 11 a.m. start the following day.

But that wasn’t as bad as Thursday night, when the Orioles had to get on a team charter at 2 a.m. to fly into Boston.

Because of the doubleheader, right-hander Miguel Gonzalez will receive an extra day of rest. In his career, Gonzalez is 5-3 with a 2.77 ERA in 13 career starts with five days' rest. Gonzalez is also 1-0 with a 2.53 ERA in three games (one start) at Fenway Park, holding the Red Sox to a .238 batting average. He is 3-0 with a 3.13 ERA overall against the club.

Although his career numbers at Fenway Park are impressive, Gonzalez has made just one start against the Red Sox in Boston, allowing two runs on seven hits over 6 1/3 innings on Sept. 21, 2012.

Right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, who will start Game 2, doesn't have as promising a precedent. He is 1-3 with a 9.31 ERA in six career starts against the Red Sox. As a team, the Red Sox are hitting .309 against Jimenez.

Jimenez doesn’t fare any better against the Red Sox at Fenway Park, where he is 0-1 with a 9.31 ERA in two starts over 9 2/3 innings. He didn’t get out of the sixth in either of those starts, including on April 20, when he allowed three runs on four hits, striking out five batters and walking three over 5 1/3 innings in a 6-5 loss.

Keep in mind that that start was during Jimenez’s rocky first month as an Oriole. He’s allowed two or fewer runs in three of his past five starts.

eencina@baltsun.com

twitter.com/EddieInTheYard

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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BaseballMajor League BaseballBaltimore OriolesBoston Red SoxMiguel GonzalezFenway ParkToronto Blue Jays
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