The Juice: Orioles magic works way into share of first place, AL Central stumbles on

Kevin Kaduk
September 5, 2012

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Lofty perch: Yes, this is really happening. The Baltimore Orioles collected a season-high 18 hits while seizing a share of the AL East lead with a 12-0 throttling of the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on Tuesday night. The win, coupled with the Yankees' 5-2 loss to Tampa Bay, completely wiped out a New York lead that had been 10 games on July 18. This is the latest the Orioles have been in first place since September 1997, a 98-win season that gave the franchise its last division title and postseason appearance.

''It's a big deal, obviously, but there's a lot of games left,'' said Mark Reynolds. ''Us, the Yankees and the Rays are all right there. Oakland is having a good run right now. We can't take anything for granted.''

Indeed, the Orioles do have 27 games left and they'll not only need to fight off the Yankees, but also the Rays, who sit just 1.5 games behind both teams in the standings. They did claim a share of first with some brute force style, though. Reynolds was 3 for 4 with a three-run homer and four RBIs while Zach Britton resumed his run of good starts after being called up from Triple-A Norfolk. The left-hander pitched seven scoreless innings and is 4-0 with a 0.94 ERA over his last four starts.

Middling midwesterners: The three AL East teams and Oakland may be heading into a month-long dogfight for a spot in that play-in game, but at least they can take solace in the AL Central slowly removing itself from the equation. The White Sox were blasted by the Twins 18-9 on Tuesday night (no, that's not a typo) while the Tigers dropped their second straight 3-2 decision to the Indians. Chicago still holds a one-game lead over Detroit in the standings and it increasingly looks like the division title will be the only route into the postseason for either team as the Tigers stand four games off the wild-card pace. (They're also a half-game behind the Los Angeles Angels, who just rode a strong Zack Greinke start to a 6-1 win over Oakland.)  Who wants that AL Central title less, folks?

[MLB Full Count: Watch live look-ins and highlights for free all season long]

Bruuuuuuuuuce: With Joey Votto waiting in the wings for his return, his Cincinnati Reds teammates showed him one last time that they never really missed him. Jay Bruce hit a homer in his third straight game and Mat Latos pitched seven innings of one-run ball as the Reds took a 2-1 decision over the Phillies at Great American Ballpark.  The win was Cincinnati's 83rd of the season — they're tied with Washington for most in the majors — and moved their record without Votto to 32-16. Jimmy Rollins provided his own highlight in the Phillies loss, stroking the 2,000th hit of his career.

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Quote of the day

''Nothing changes. We play everybody. How many games do we have left? Win all of them, we're good, right?"

— Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter

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Photo of the day: Expanded rosters

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton delivered Tuesday's first pitch to Bengals receiver A.J. Green before the Reds-Phillies game.

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Three facts for the water cooler

• Eat your heart out, Tony La Russa. Bruce Bochy and the San Francisco Giants tied a major-league record by using 11 pitchers during an 8-6 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks in 11 innings.

• Clayton Kershaw struck out nine batters in a 6-3 loss to the Padres to reach the 200-strikeout mark for the third straight season. He joins Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Fernando Valenzuela and Hideo Nomo as the only Los Angeles Dodgers pitchers to put together such a streak.

• Miami's Giancarlo Stanton hit his 30th homer of the season in an 8-4 loss to Milwaukee. According to ESPN Stats & Info, he's only the fifth player in history to hit two consecutive 30-homer seasons before turning 23. Jimmie Foxx, Eddie Mathews, Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera are the other four.

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