Down the Stretch (Sept. 17)

[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 continues.]

About last night

O's get 82nd win, avoid sweep in Oakland
Young pitchers make smooth transition in bullpen
Brian Matusz has been a pleasant surprise
Schmuck: With this win, it wasn't a lost weekend
Sunday's full scoreboard

AL East Standings

NYY       83-63     --
BAL       82-64     1
TB         78-68     5

AL Wild-Card Standings

OAK        84-62     --
BAL        82-64        --
LAA        80-67     2.5
TB          78-68      4
DET        77-68     4.5

Tonight’s game

Orioles at Mariners. 10:10 p.m.

RHP Chris Tillman (7-2, 3.39 ERA) vs. RHP Hector Noesi (2-11, 5.54 ERA)

Key matchup

None of the Orioles have an extensive history against Noesi, but Robert Andino is 4-for-7 against the 25-year-old former Yankee.

Meanwhile, Tillman has been dominant against the club that drafted him. In three career starts against the Mariners (including two this year), Tillman is 3-0 with an 0.83 ERA.

Other games that matter

Tigers (Fister) at White Sox (Quintana), 2:10 p.m.

Red Sox (Cook) at Rays (Cobb), 7:10 p.m.

Thought of the day

Make no mistake, the AL wild card is still a five-team race. But if you look in the rearview mirror, it's no longer the Rays who are creeping up on the O's -- it's the Angels.

And in this case, objects may be closer than they appear.

You can make the argument that the Angels are the best team in baseball. They haven't played like it all season -- which is why they're just a third-place wild-card team right now -- but they have all the pieces to play deep into October. (Pitching, hitting, speed, defense, guys named Pujols and Trout.)

Now, having won three of their last four, the idle Angels can find themselves within two games of that last playoff spot at the end of tonight.

Here's the problem for L.A.: In their final 15 games, they face Texas six times and play the White Sox three times (their other six games are against Seattle).

That's a much tougher slate than the Orioles', which includes just three more games all season against a team with a winning record (Tampa in the final series).

But, if the Angels really are one of the best teams in baseball, they're going to find a way to win a good chunk of those games and keep the pressure on the Orioles.

It doesn't matter who's chasing them, all the O's can do is keep winning the games in front of them. But, to me, the Angels are a more daunting presence from 2.5 games back than any of the other teams in the hunt.

Inside the enemy clubhouses

A lower-back issue led to Greinke's early exit Saturday

'A little limp' might keep Derek Jeter away from shortstop

Are the Rays headed for an early knockout?

Tigers' Jackson and Avila ailing at a bad time


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