The Baltimore Orioles blew a 6-1 eighth inning lead against the visiting New York Yankees on Thursday night, but it didn’t take them long to reclaim the lead and re-claim a first-place tie with the Evil Empire.
Baltimore could only watch helplessly as Pedro Strop, who has been fantastic all year, ran through a meltdown inning that allowed five Yankees runs to score on the strength of just three hits. Strop doesn’t get all the blame, of course, Randy Wolf got New York’s rally started with a bout of ineffectiveness of his own. You expect that kind of thing from Wolf, but O’s fans must have been distraught when Strop imploded.
With the score tied at six, New York turned to David Robertson, who buzzed the tower on Adam Jones before Jones turned around a fastball and cleared the wall in left-center to break the tie. Two batters later, Mark Reynolds put the game out of reach with his second homer of the night. Sound familiar? If you paid attention to the series last week between these two clubs in the Bronx, it should. Reynolds had a pair of two-homer games in that series.
For the better part of five months, Reynolds had been an abject disappointment at the dish for the Orioles. After averaging 38 bombs per season over the last three years, Reynolds has just 12 longballs through 103 games this season and a paltry .397 slugging percentage. Since that series began in the Bronx, however, Reynolds has added eight home runs to that total in just the past seven games.
Baltimore saw a crowd of better than 40,000 on the night they honored Cal Ripken Jr.’s iron man streak and unveiled a statue of their former shortstop. While the fans have been slow to embrace this club, if this game didn’t get O’s fans excited, I’m not sure what will.
The Yankees and Orioles meet three more times this weekend; the final three meetings between the clubs this year. It might not have been the race we expected to see, but if Thursday night is any indication, the Yankees might be in serious trouble down the stretch.
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