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Orioles down the stretch (Sept. 14)

[Back for its second year, "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

Chris Davis' 50th homer helps Orioles to 5-3 win over Jays
O's fan from Ellicott City makes sure Davis gets his HR ball
Orioles get some good news about Darren O'Day
A closer look at O's struggles with runners in scoring position
Dan Johnson called up and Steve Clevenger gets first start
A look at every player who's ever hit 50 homers in a season
Friday's full scoreboard

AL East standings

BOS     90-59     --
TB       80-66    8.5
NYY     79-69    10.5
BAL     78-69     11

AL wild-card standings

TEX       81-65     --
TB        80-66       --
CLE      79-68     1.5
NYY      79-69      2
BAL      78-69     2.5
KC       77-70     3.5

(For full standings, click here.)

Today's game

Orioles at Blue Jays, 4:07 p.m.

RHP Chris Tillman (16-5, 3.66 ERA) vs. RHP Esmil Rogers (5-7, 4.46 ERA)

Key matchup

Edwin Encarnacion, the Blue Jays' most dangerous hitter, is 7-for-21 (.333) in his career against Tillman with a homer and a double. Tillman is 2-0 with a 3.57 ERA in three starts against Toronto this season.

Other games that matter

Yankees (Sabathia) at Boston (Lester), 1:05 p.m.

Athletics (Colon) at Rangers (Darvish), 1:05 p.m.

Royals (Santana) at Tigers (Fister), 7:08 p.m.

Indians (Jimenez) at White Sox (Rienzo), 7:10 p.m.

Rays (Moore) at Twins (Albers), 7:10 p.m.

Thought of the day

If you're trying to be optimistic about the Orioles' chances of winning a wild-card berth, it's easy to look at last night's game and say that it could be the one that sparks a furious final push. Chris Davis played the hero role and Baltimore native Steve Clevenger also delivered a crucial two-run double in his first start for the hometown team.

(Sorry Steve, you picked the wrong night if you were hoping to get to the top of our game story.)

But as many warm feelings as that win rustled up for Orioles fans, it didn't pull the team any closer in the chase for the second wild-card.

This is a perfect example of why it's going to be so tough for the O's to return to the postseason. Even though the 2 1/2 games don't seem that daunting with 15 to play, there are so many teams involved that the Orioles are going to find it hard to gain ground on one without another at least keeping pace.

And any time the Orioles lose a game from this point, you can bet it's going to hurt them in comparison to at least one of their chief competitors for that final spot.

Hence, the number-crunchers at coolstandings.com list the Orioles with only a 7.2 percent chance of reaching the playoffs.

It's not impossible, but it's going to take a significant run. Friday night may have been the start of one, but this isn't the first time we've thought that could be the case.

Something you don't need to know (but now will)

The Orioles don't allow their players to have unruly facial hair, so it would be pretty easy to differentiate their team picture from that of this year's Boston Red Sox.

On Wednesday night, they'll be completely outnumbered.

The Red Sox are hosting "Dollar Beard Night" at Fenway Park for the middle game of next week's series against the Orioles, offering $1 tickets to fans with a real or painted beard.

In honor of their ritual, perhaps the Orioles should consider $1 pie-face night and offer a discount to fans willing to slam a shaving cream pie in their face at the ticket window.

Nah, on second thought, forget I ever said anything.

Inside enemy clubhouses

Joe Girardi concerned with Alex Rodriguez's hamstring

Rays hope reliever Jesse Crain can come back and be a factor

Emilio Bonifacio has given Royals a spark from No. 2 hole

Indians' Ryan Raburn could be due for more at-bats

Stat of the day

We'll give you eight of them with this "Chris Davis home runs by the numbers" post.



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