Down the Stretch (Sept. 7)

Down the Stretch (Sept. 7)

[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 make the most of a playoff atmosphere, beat Yankees 10-6
Mark Reynolds suddenly looks like his old, slugging self
Jake Arrieta uses sports psychologist to get back on track
Schmuck: Ripken turns tribute into celebration of current O's
Thursday's full scoreboard

AL East Standings

BAL       77-60     --
NYY       77-60     --
TB         75-62     2

AL Wild-Card Standings

BAL/NYY  77-60     --
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 Phil Hughes (13-12, 4.18 ERA) vs. LHP Wei-Yin Chen (12-8, 3.79 ERA)

Key matchup

Think the Mark Reynolds magic is ready to run out of steam? Consider this: Reynolds is 3-for-6 against Hughes this year, including 2 homers in Sunday's game in New York. The guy spent much of the season teetering around the Mendoza Line, and all of a sudden every one of his at-bats is a must-see event.

Other games that matter

Rangers (Holland) at Rays  (Hellickson), 7:10 p.m.

Royals (Mendoza) at White Sox (Liriano),  8:10 p.m.

Tigers (Scherzer) at Angels (Santana),  10:05 p.m.

Athletics (Griffin) at Mariners  (Hernandez), 10:10 p.m.

Thought of the day

The positive vibes have been bouncing around the buildings in downtown Baltimore this morning, and rightfully so.

But we shouldn't ignore a concerning development in the Orioles' bullpen.

Pedro Strop has been one of the Orioles' rocks all season, which is why the team is quick to defend him on the race occasions when he doesn't deliver. But with two rough outings against the Yankees in a span of a week, it's not something they can ignore.

It's not that Strop has created a big mess -- it's just that he's suddenly struggling to clean them up. Before Saturday, Strop had allowed only 6 of 18 inherited runners to score all season.

In his last two appearances against the Yankees, he's allowed all 4 of his inherited runners to cross the plate.

Combine that with the two runs he gave up on his own in 1/3 of an inning Aug. 30 against the White Sox, and this qualifies as a funk.

Again, as the Orioles will remind anyone who asks, Strop is a big reason why the O's are in this position playing these September games where every out is crucial. But they need him to get back to the way he had been pitching for most of the year, otherwise you have to think some of these late-inning set-up situations might eventually fall into another pitcher's hands.

And, unfortunately for them, there really isn't another option who looks more promising than the version of Pedro Strop they've grown to trust over ther season's first five months.

Inside the enemy clubhouses

Ivan Nova could return to Yankees on Sunday and pitch vs. O's

Doctor says A's pitcher Brandon McCarthy could have died from head injury

Lefty Jake McGee has shined in the Rays' bullpen

10-game road trip could make or break Tigers

Tweet of the night

): Two ground outs and two explosions from the crowd. I'm either in the wrong city or wrong decade.

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