[Editor's note: Down the stretch is a new daily Orioles Insider blog that will set up the coming night for the O's and their American League competition as the push for the postseason intensifies.]
About last night
AL East Standings
NYY 76-58 --
BAL 75-59 1
TB 74-61 2.5
AL Wild-Card Standings
OAK 76-58 --
BAL 75-59 --
TB 74-61 1.5
DET 72-62 3
LAA 72-63 3.5
Orioles at Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m.
LHP Zach Britton (4-1, 4.80 ERA) vs. RHP Carlos Villanueva (7-3, 3.10 ERA)
Orioles DH Chris Davis is 4 for 6 against Villanueva for his career and 2 for 2 against him this year -- with both those hits home runs.
Other games that matter
Yankees (Garcia) at Rays (Cobb), 7:10 p.m.
Indians (Masterson) at Tigers (Porcello), 7:05 p.m.
Twins (Diamond) at White Sox (Quintana), 8:10 p.m.
Rangers (Harrison) at Royals (Guthrie), 8:10 p.m.
Angels (Greinke) at A's (Parker), 10:05 p.m.
Thought of the day
Jim Johnson hadn't pitched in three days, and the Orioles' lead was only four runs, so it was a no-brainer for him to work the ninth inning of yesterday's 4-0 win over the Jays.
But closers many times aren't as sharp pitching in non-save situations, which is why it was encouraging to watch Johnson mow through the inning 1-2-3.
Johnson hadn't pitched in a non-save situation since Aug. 4, and that was also a 1-2-3 ninth in a 4-0 win over Tampa Bay.
With these games down the stretch meaning so much, the Orioles might put more 4- or 5-run games in Johnson's hands. It's hard to explain exactly why a closer would struggle when he has a bigger lead – the obvious suggestion is that he lets up a little bit – but Johnson hasn't shown a hint of that.
And, since his last blown save against Oakland on July 27, he's allowed no runs and just five hits in 12 2/3 innings of work.
Just what you want to see from a closer at this time of year.
Inside the enemy clubhouses