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Down the Stretch (Oct. 3)

[

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

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AL East Standings

*NYY       94-67     --

*BAL       93-68     1

AL Wild-Card Standings

*BAL          93-68

--

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*OAK/TEX   93-68

--

* Clinched postseason berth

NOTE:

Today's game

Orioles at

Rays

, 7:10 p.m.

RHP Chris Tillman (9-2, 2.78 ERA) vs. RHP

Jeremy Hellickson

(9-11, 3.20 ERA)

Key matchup

Evan Longoria

is 4-for-10 against Tillman in his career with a homer and three walks. The third baseman didn't play in Tillman's lone start against the Rays this year, a 6-2 win in which Tillman allowed two runs in six innings of work July 26 at

Camden Yards

.


Other games that matter

Rangers

(Dempster) at

Athletics

(Griffin), 3:35 p.m.

Red Sox

(

Matsuzaka

) at

Yankees

(Kuroda), 7:05 p.m.


Thought of the day

There's too much going on today to share just one thought, so let's go rapid fire:

** The Orioles rotation looks like it's set up pretty nicely for a potential ALDS with Jason Hammel,

Miguel Gonzalez

and Tillman in line for the first three games. But who takes the ball to get them there?

Steve Johnson would be in line to pitch a Thursday tiebreaker against the Yankees.

Joe Saunders

would be on regular rest to pitch a wild-card game Friday. Those guys have pitched fine, but they're not the first names off your lips when you're debating who should start a do-or-die game.

Wei-Yin Chen

could pitch on three-days rest Friday, but the way he's looked lately, I'd have to think that's unlikely.

** With all due respect to the Orioles, if the A's win the

AL West

, that gets my vote for the biggest shocker of the year. There's no way that group of players is supposed to finish ahead of the Rangers and

Angels

.

** Say what you want about the Red Sox's Triple-A lineup, but

Andrew Bailey

blew the game against the Yankees last night. He's the closer Boston traded

Josh Reddick

for in the offseason, and his 7.04 ERA in 19 appearances this year doesn't make that trade look any better that it did when Reddick had his breakout first half.

** One more note on these putrid Red Sox. Daisuke Matsuzaka pitches tonight in what's widely expected to be his last game in a Boston uniform. Somewhat fitting that one of their worst signings ever takes the ball at the end of one of their most disappointing seasons ever. Does he have it in him to throw an out-of-knowhere gem against the Yankees?

** I say

Miguel Cabrera

deserves the

AL MVP

. Do you agree?

** Tonight won't live up to last year's Game 162s, but that's too high of a standard to hold it to. If you have this much in flux heading into the final night of the season, it's as compelling of a situation as you can reasonably ask for. Enjoy.


Inside the enemy clubhouses



Poll question

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