[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
O's drop first game of road trip to A's
Betemit (wrist) likely out for the season
Orioles players debate who's their MVP
O's can make history if they win AL East
Friday's full scoreboard
AL East Standings
BAL 81-63 --
NYY 81-63 --
TB 78-66 3
AL Wild-Card Standings
OAK 83-61 --
BAL/NYY 81-63 --
LAA 79-66 2.5
TB 78-66 3
DET 76-67 4.5
Orioles at Athletics, 9:05 p.m.
As he showed Friday night, Yoenis Cespedes is going to be a tough match-up for any pitcher, let alone a lefty like Britton. With these games likely to remain low scoring, another blast from the Cuban defector could prove costly. He went 1 for 2 with a walk against Britton in their only meeting July 27.
Other games that matter
Tigers (Sanchez) at Indians (Masterson), 4:05 p.m.
Rays (Shields) at Yankees (Nova), 4:05 p.m.
Angels (Greinke) at Royals (Guthrie), 7:10 p.m.
Thought of the day
You can debate whether it was a mistake for Xavier Avery to steal with two outs in the ninth inning last night. (I actually like the aggressiveness in that situation, although with those huge gaps in Oakland, I think you want Chris Davis taking a hack at them.)
Wherever you fall in that discussion, now's a good time to point out that basestealing is a major weakness for the Orioles -- especially in these close games.
The O's haven't been particualrly aggressive on the bases this season, and their 50 steals are the second fewest in the majors (Detroit has 49). The third-worst team, Pittsburgh, has 59 stolen bases, and the fourht-worst, the Mets, have 68.
In other words, the O's are really low in that category.
Having guys like Avery and Endy Chavez up in September should help add some speed to the mix. But without a guy you can truly count on to swipe a base late in the game, it puts extra pressure on your hitters. It also makes you more susceptible to double plays, which we know was also an issue Friday.
These Orioles will always be a three-run homer kind of team, and you wouldn't want to see them change that after it's worked for so long. But being able to add a basestealing element with their September call-ups would have added an extra weapon in these playoff-style games.
After seeing the way Avery's steal attempt worked out, it's hard to imagine that being a viable option on many occasions down the stretch.
Inside the enemy clubhouses
Tweet of the night