Down the Stretch (Oct. 3)

Down the Stretch (Oct. 3)

[Down the stretch is a daily Orioles Insider blog that will set up the coming day for the O's and their American League competition as the push for the postseason continues.]

About last night

Orioles beat Rays, 1-0, to stay alive in division race
Schmuck: It all comes down to the final day of season
Notes: Hammel gets green light to pitch in playoffs
Tillman will take the ball in today's finale vs. Tampa
Chris Davis homers in 6ths straight game to tie record
Tuesday's full scoreboard

AL East Standings

*NYY       94-67     --
*BAL       93-68     1

AL Wild-Card Standings

*BAL          93-68      --
*OAK/TEX   93-68        --

* Clinched postseason berth

NOTE: For the Orioles' remaining postseason scenarios, click here.

Today’s game

Orioles at Rays, 7:10 p.m.

RHP Chris Tillman (9-2, 2.78 ERA) vs. RHP Jeremy Hellickson (9-11, 3.20 ERA)

Key matchup

Evan Longoria is 4-for-10 against Tillman in his career with a homer and three walks. The third baseman didn't play in Tillman's lone start against the Rays this year, a 6-2 win in which Tillman allowed two runs in six innings of work July 26 at Camden Yards.

Other games that matter

Rangers (Dempster) at Athletics (Griffin), 3:35 p.m.

Red Sox (Matsuzaka) at Yankees (Kuroda), 7:05 p.m.

Thought of the day

There's too much going on today to share just one thought, so let's go rapid fire:

** The Orioles rotation looks like it's set up pretty nicely for a potential ALDS with Jason Hammel, Miguel Gonzalez and Tillman in line for the first three games. But who takes the ball to get them there?

Steve Johnson would be in line to pitch a Thursday tiebreaker against the Yankees. Joe Saunders would be on regular rest to pitch a wild-card game Friday. Those guys have pitched fine, but they're not the first names off your lips when you're debating who should start a do-or-die game.

Wei-Yin Chen could pitch on three-days rest Friday, but the way he's looked lately, I'd have to think that's unlikely.

** With all due respect to the Orioles, if the A's win the AL West, that gets my vote for the biggest shocker of the year. There's no way that group of players is supposed to finish ahead of the Rangers and Angels.

** Say what you want about the Red Sox's Triple-A lineup, but Andrew Bailey blew the game against the Yankees last night. He's the closer Boston traded Josh Reddick for in the offseason, and his 7.04 ERA in 19 appearances this year doesn't make that trade look any better that it did when Reddick had his breakout first half.

** One more note on these putrid Red Sox. Daisuke Matsuzaka pitches tonight in what's widely expected to be his last game in a Boston uniform. Somewhat fitting that one of their worst signings ever takes the ball at the end of one of their most disappointing seasons ever. Does he have it in him to throw an out-of-knowhere gem against the Yankees?

** I say Miguel Cabrera deserves the AL MVP and outlined my reasoning here. Do you agree?

** Tonight won't live up to last year's Game 162s, but that's too high of a standard to hold it to. If you have this much in flux heading into the final night of the season, it's as compelling of a situation as you can reasonably ask for. Enjoy.

Inside the enemy clubhouses

Hardened Kuroda ready for postseason with Yankees

A's pitcher Brett Anderson feels oblique tightness

The curious case of Ian Kinsler's road struggles

Poll question


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