Down the Stretch (Sept. 9)

[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

O's win over Yankees tempered by Markakis' injury
Orioles react to losing Nick Markakis for 6 weeks
Mark Teixeira rips umpires over close call at first base
Connolly: Sunday might be most important day facing O's
Saturday's full scoreboard

AL East Standings

BAL       78-61     --
NYY       78-61     --
TB         76-63     2

AL Wild-Card Standings

OAK        78-60     --
BAL/NYY   78-61      --
TB          76-63     2
LAA         76-63     2
DET        73-65     4.5

Today's game

Yankees at Orioles, 1:35 p.m.

RHP Freddy Garcia (7-6, 5.09 ERA) vs. LHP Zach Britton (5-1, 4.15 ERA)

Key matchup

Wilson Betemit is 3-for-6 with 2 homers in his career against Garcia, and this matchup will be especially important because Betemit is batting third today as the Orioles' DH. In the first sign of how Buck Showalter will handle life without Nick Markais, it looks like he's going with the best offensive matchups, while possibly sacrificing some defense by moving Chris Davis out into right field. Davis didn't do a bad job in the outfield earlier this year, but he doesn't have the range of someone like Lew Ford, and he hasn't played in the field at all since July. If you're going to sacrifice a little defense to get Betemit's bat into the lineup, he's got to deliver.

Other games that matter

Rangers (Oswalt) at Rays (Shields), 1:40 p.m.


Royals (Guthrie) at White Sox (Santiago), 2:10 p.m.

Tigers (Sanchez) at Angels (Greinke), 3:35 p.m.


Athletics (Milone) at Mariners (Vargas), 4:10 p.m.

Thought of the day

Much has been written -- and much more will be written -- about the biggest break of last night: the one to Markakis' left thumb.

But, for now, let's talk about the big break that went in the Orioles' favor.


Mark Teixeira was safe on the final play of the game, and it should have went into extra innings. First-base umpire Jerry Meals clearly made the wrong call.

But you know who else made the wrong call?


It's been proven by the greatest scientists and scholars (or at least by enough crusty old coaches with stopwatches) that the fastest way to first base is to run through the bag. Otherwise, wouldn't you see Usain Bolt going face first across the finish line in the 100 meters at the Olympics?

The one advantage diving into first base gives a runner is that it deceives the umpire. That bang-bang call at first is a tough one, and when you take out the sound of the foot hitting the bag and change the field of vision for the umpire, it makes it even tougher.

They'll never admit this, but for that reason, I think umpires lean ever so slightly toward calling runners out when they dive on a close play at first.

If Teixeira had run through the bag, he probably would have been called safe and avoided the controversy. It's a split-second decision on his part whether to dive, but if he did it to muck up the call and try to steal a safe call, then how can he whine when the wrong call was made?

If he truly thinks he can cover ground faster with a swan dive than a full lunging stride, then I might need to have a word with some of those professors at Mount St. Joe.

Just to be clear, I'm not saying his diving into first should automatically make him out. He was safe and the game should have gone on. But it was his choice to make it a tougher call on Meals, and in this case he did deceive the umpire -- in the Orioles' favor.

Inside the enemy clubhouses

Andy Pettitte could return to Yankees rotation this week

Poll question