Down the Stretch (Sept. 26)

[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 shut out for the first time in 49 games, lose to Jays
Schmuck: Now is not the time for Orioles to panic
Dylan Bundy makes his home debut
Hoes and Bundy win top minor league awards
Randy Wolf (elbow) could be lost for the season
Jason Hammel (knee) takes a step in his recovery
Tuesday's full scoreboard

AL East Standings

NYY       89-65     --
BAL       88-67    1.5
TB         84-70    5

AL Wild-Card Standings

BAL          88-67      --
OAK         87-67         --
LAA          85-69      2
TB            84-70      3
DET/CWS   82-72      5

Today’s game

Blue Jays at Orioles, 7:05 p.m.

RHP Carlos Villanueva (7-6, 3.88 ERA) vs. RHP Miguel Gonzalez (7-4, 3.52 ERA)

Key matchup

Mark Reynolds (5-for-14 with two homers), Chris Davis (5-for-8 with 2 homers) and J.J. Hardy (8-for-15 with 1 homer) have all had success against Villanueva in their careers. He's got a 6.92 ERA in three appearances (two starts) against the Orioles this season despite posting solid numbers overall.


Other games that matter

Yankees (Sabathia) at Twins (Deduno), 1:10 p.m.

Royals (Guthrie) at Tigers (Porcello), 7:05 p.m.

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

Athletics (Parker) at Rangers (Perez), 8:05 p.m.

Indians (Masterson) at White Sox (Santiago), 8:10 p.m.

Mariners (Hernandez) at Angels (Wilson), 10:05 p.m.


Thought of the day

Debating who should win the postseason awards is one of the more entertaining elements of baseball -- and sports in general.

We love to get an early start doing so, but in reality, these late moments are where they should be earned.

A couple weeks back we wrote about Buck Showalter and Bob Melvin being the leading candidates for American League Manager of the Year. You can certainly toss Chicago's Robin Ventura in that conversation, too.

But for all three of those guys, their most important work might be coming over the next eight days.

Many people have said that the Orioles looked tight last night. That's a natural reaction to this situation, but it's Buck's job to make sure that doesn't linger throughout the weekend.

Same is true for Melvin with the A's (who can hear footsteps from the Angels) and Ventura with the White Sox (who have dropped into a tie with Detroit for the AL Central lead).

It's taken impressive work for each of those managers to get their teams in this position, and it's going to be even more intriguing to see which ones thrive under the greatest pressure this final week.


Inside the enemy clubhouses

Gardner back with Yanks as pinch-runner, defensive sub

Josh Hamilton rooting for Cabrera to get triple crown

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