Down the Stretch (Sept. 6)

[Editor's note: Down the stretch is a 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


O's drop series finale to Jays, fall out of first place in division
Orioles will celebrate Cal Ripken Jr. (and a pennant race) tonight
Cowherd: It's time for Orioles fans to fully jump on board
Dylan Bundy pitches Bowie to a playoff win
Wednesday's full scoreboard

AL East Standings


NYY       77-59     --
BAL       76-60     1
TB         75-62    2.5

AL Wild-Card Standings

BAL         76-60     --
OAK        76-60      --
TB          75-62    1.5
LAA        74-63    2.5
DET        73-63     3

Today's game

Yankees at Orioles, 7:05 p.m.

RHP David Phelps (3-4, 3.13 ERA) vs. RHP Jason Hammel (8-6, 3.54 ERA)

Key matchup

While he's hardly been a superstar this season, Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez is a career .400 hitter against Hammel (8-for-20) with 4 homers and 9 RBIs. A-Rod had an RBI double in New York's win Wednesday night.


Other game that (kind of) matters

Rangers  (Feldman) at Royals (Hochevar), 8:10 p.m.

Thought of the day

It's somewhat fitting that Opening Day starter Jake Arrieta is expected to join the Orioles today, because tonight's game against the Yankees will be an event unlike any other at Camden Yards since that sunny afternoon in April when the season started against the Minnesota Twins.

Tonight's game is sold out, which means the attendance could reach the season-high of 46,773 set Opening Day. And, in a lot of ways, this is the true opening of the playoff push here in Baltimore.

Sure, every game this month has been big. But you can't tell me playing before 13,000 fans at Rogers Centre is a playoff atmosphere. The O's experienced one in New York last weekend, and they should get another for all four of these games against the Yankees.


Adam Jones and Mark Reynolds both made reference Wednesday to the fact that they heard the park will be packed. It's a reward for the way this team has played all season.

Now we'll see how the Orioles respond.

We saw Wednesday night how tough this month is going to be. The O's, for all intents and purposes, played a solid game. Jones and Reynolds homered, and Miguel Gonzalez gave his team a chance to win. But the Jays scratched across enough runs and got the benefit of the closest call of the night.

As the O's said after the game, that's baseball -- and that's also why surviving one of the most cluttered September battle royales in baseball history is going to be a nightly, nail-biting challenge.

In a matter of 24 hours, the AL East and AL wild-card races both clenched even tighter. After sitting in first place for one glorious Wednesday in September, the O's could finish this weekend on the outside of both races and scrambling to catch up.

Of course, they'll have 40,000+ in their corner tonight, and those fans will be full of hope. Kind of like an Opening Day, but something you don't expect to see in these parts on Sept. 6.


Inside the enemy clubhouses

Yankees hold a team meeting to regroup after recent struggles

A's concerned about pitcher Brandon McCarthy, who was struck in head by line drive

Joe Maddon and Bobby Valentine trade barbs

Bobby V also tells a radio host that he'd like to punch him

Tweet of the night


: Back in the USA. Ahhhhhhhhhh (at 1:46 a.m.)

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