[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
Orioles bounce back to take series finale in Toronto, 3-1
Miguel Gonzalez and Nate McLouth hurt in Sunday's win
Notes: Bud Norris reports improvement in elbow
Back-in-black strategy didn't work for O's
Some observations on the upcoming series in Boston
Sunday's full scoreboard
AL East standings
BOS 92-59 --
TB 81-67 9.5
BAL 79-70 12
NYY 79-71 12.5
AL wild-card standings
TEX 81-67 --
TB 81-67 --
CLE 81-68 0.5
BAL 79-70 2.5
NYY 79-71 3
KC 78-71 3.5
(For full standings, click here.)
Off day, series begins in Boston tomorrow at 7:10 p.m.
Today is the Orioles' last scheduled day off of the season -- and their last chance to recouperate mentally and physically before the 13-game stretch that will decide whether 2013 ends in the postseason or before the calendar turns to October.
Other games that matter
Indians (Kazmir) at Royals (Shields), 8:10 p.m.
Angels (Wilson) at Athletics (Parker), 10:05 p.m.
Thought of the day
Maybe it's a matter of perspective, but last year you really got the sense the Orioles were battling for a spot in the postseason and earned the final wild-card spot.
This year's race for the final American League playoff positions seems more of a demolition derby in which two cars will be deemed the least damaged after crashing into each other -- and smashing into the wall -- over the final weeks.
Here's a take from Yahoo's Jeff Passan on the carnage:
"From the stench emanating out of Arlington to the epic lead-blowing in Tampa Bay to the four-figure crowds in Cleveland to opponents still outscoring New York to the sub-.500 record of Baltimore since the break to Ned Yost redefining managerial blundering with Kansas City, the American League wild-card race is like six rats fighting over two pieces of cheese with the Benny Hill theme blasting in the background."
With Texas facing Tampa and Cleveland playing Kansas City this week, it's a good news/bad news predicament for the Orioles. Two of those teams are going to win each night and two are going to lose. For the Orioles' sake, they know all they can do is win their games against a Red Sox team that's hot and has been dominant at home.
The bottom line is that two teams are going to play past Sept. 29, and one of them is going to earn a ticket into the ALDS, where the slate is wiped clean and it shouldn't shock anybody if said team gets hot and wins a series.
It would probably help if that unknown team began a run of good baseball in the final two weeks of the regular season, but at this point it's anyone's guess which club has the best shot at doing that.
Inside enemy clubhouses
Stat of the day
The Red Sox's 13 wins against the Yankees this year are the most wins by any team against New York since the 1976 Orioles went 13-5. (Courtesy of @MLBStatoftheDay)