The tightest race in the Major Leagues continues to develop new and interesting wrinkles as the Yankees and Orioles battle it out for the AL East crown. With two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Yankees hold a slim one-game lead over the Baltimore Orioles. Both teams won on Friday and each have won eight of their last ten. With neither team willing to give an inch, this race looks like it will come down to the last game of the year.
With the Orioles nipping at their heels all month, the Yankees knew they had to keep the pressure on the less experienced Baltimore team last night by beating a pesky Oakland squad. The Yanks accomplished that feat with the help of an outstanding performance from their ace, C.C. Sabathia and some late inning heroics from Russell Martin.
The Yankees nursed a 1-0 lead from the fourth inning on, backed by Sabathia’s three hit, shutout through eight innings. After leaving in the ninth inning, the Orioles then got to closer Rafeal Soriano. Brandon Moss hit a game-tying solo homerun to send the game into extras, but Martin quickly responded in the bottom half of the tenth, hitting a walk-off homer to win the game for New York 2-1.
The Yankees will send Ivan Nova (21-7, 4.85 ERA) to the hill in game two against Oakland today to square off with Travis Blackley (5-3, 3.36 ER). Nova is 1-0 in Oakland this season with an ERA of 3.29 in two starts while Blackley will be facing the intimidating Yankees lineup for the first time this year. Take the Yankees to cover the -1.5 runline in this one and look for their bats to breakout against Blackley.
New York suffered a bit of a lull in August and saw Baltimore rally to get even in the standings. Since then, the Yanks have stepped up their game, rattling off 11 wins in 15 games, but surprisingly the Orioles haven’t gone far and are still just one game back with about two weeks to go in the season.
Miguel Gonzalez picked up his seventh win of the season after pitching six and one-third innings and allowing just two runs on seven hits. The O’s broke up a 2-2 tie in the top of the sixth with an RBI double from Matt Wieters, his third RBI of the night, and then tacked on one more in the inning off an RBI single from Mark Reynolds. Baltimore held on to the 4-2 win, which catapulted the O’s into first place in the AL Wild Card.
Jon Lester was handed his 13th loss of the season and just his first in 15 decisions against the Orioles.
The O’s will hope to get even in the standings once again today as they face the Red Sox in game two. Randy Wolf (5-10, 5.66 ERA) will make his third start in an Orioles uniform this season since coming over from Milwaukee and he will be taking on Aaron Cook (4-10, 4.93 ERA). Since the Orioles have already beaten Cook both times they have faced him, look for the O’s to stay hot and to cover the -1.5 runline today in a victory that will at least keep pace in the East race.