Bronx, NY, USA; Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado singles to center against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE
The Orioles tightened the AL East race with a convincing win over the Yankees Friday night.
There are many baseball things that defy logical explanation, but the Orioles' improbable run this season has to be near the top of the list.
Baltimore defeated the New York Yankees 6-1 Friday night at Yankee Stadium -- the fifth win in seven tries in New York for the O's this season -- to move to within two games of first place in the AL East.
They got seven shutout innings out of Miguel Gonzalez -- who had not started a game since August 20. It's an upset of sorts that Gonzalez is even in the big leagues; he's a 28-year-old rookie who was out of the game in 2008 and 2009 after Tommy John and knee surgery and who was so bad in the Red Sox' organization in 2011 that they simply released him last December.
The Orioles got home runs Friday night from J.J. Hardy and Mark Reynolds, both hit off Hiroki Kuroda -- who before Friday night had posted a 1.66 ERA in his previous eight starts. Reynolds homered a second time, off Derek Lowe.
The Orioles and Yankees will meet again Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium, with another surprising rookie, Wei-Yin Chen, facing the Yankees' David Phelps, who has posted a 4.50 ERA in three starts since moving into the rotation August 13. By Sunday, the two teams could be tied for first place -- the Yankees have lost nine of their last 14 -- and the Orioles also currently have a 2½-game lead for the AL's second wild card.
And they're doing all this with a -39 run differential, a mark that would give them a Pythagorean record of 61-70. Their excellent bullpen has helped give them a 24-6 record in one-run games, accounting for much of their great run.
You might say this can't be sustained, but it has been already for five months. Why not one, or two, more?