Don't look now, but the Baltimore Orioles are only two games out of the American League East division lead after defeating the New York Yankees on August 31 by the score of 6-1. Miguel Gonzalez picked up his sixth win of the year for the Orioles, while Hiroki Kuroda had his tenth loss.
Coming off of a rough outing against the Texas Rangers, it was really up in the air as to whether Miguel Gonzalez could continue his solid pitching after moving into the starting rotation at the end of July or whether he was starting to tire out. If the August 31 game was any indication, Gonzalez still has plenty left in the tank, going seven innings strong while giving up no runs on four hits to go along with a season-high nine strikeouts as well. It helps when a pitcher can get ahead in the count early, especially against a great lineup like the Yankees have, and Gonzalez was able to do so effectively by throwing 20 first pitch strikes to 26 total batters faced. Not only was his control on for the night, but his offspeed pitches were fantastic as well, and that combination helped Miguel to what could easily be described as his best outing of the year to this point.
With Gonzalez pitching so well the offense didn't have to do too much, and Mark Reynolds was the player who stepped it up for the ballclub in their first game of the series against the Yankees, going 2 for 4 with two monster home runs to left field and three RBIs as well. This is great news for the Orioles in my view, because Reynolds has had a below average year at the plate to say the least and if he can catch fire now and provide some much-needed production in the middle of the lineup, it could give the Orioles the advantage in the division moving forward.
The Baltimore Orioles will look to make it seven wins over their eight games as Wei-Yin Chen takes the mound on September 1 against Freddy Garcia. Every game from this point forward is important for the Orioles if they want to make the playoffs, and Chen will play a crucial role down the stretch in my opinion as the ace of the staff right now. He is coming off of a good start against the Chicago White Sox, and I think he will pitch well against the inconsistent lineup that the Yankees have to offer right now. Garcia has been more than hittable over his past few starts as well, so there is a good opportunity for the Orioles to perhaps get within one game of the division lead.
Ryan Kekoufski has been following the Baltimore Orioles since Cal Ripken Jr. broke Lou Gehrig's consecutive games streak, and still enjoys watching games at Camden Yards from time to time.