Once the Orioles got the Nats to extra innings, they had them right where they wanted them. The Nick Markakis homer in the top of the 11th and the Pedro Strop escape act in the bottom half helped the Orioles to a 2-1 win Friday night at Nats Park.
Coupled with a loss by Tampa Bay, the Orioles moved to 26-14 and out to a two-game lead atop the AL East. They have now won four in a row, six of eight and 12 of their past 17 games. The Orioles are 18-7 over their last 25 games.
They are winning so much that a listener of my radio show last night called in and had a strange question. He said he was from Philadelphia, yet he called a Baltimore radio show to ask a question that involved the Yankees.
Sometimes you get some strange calls late night on a Friday.
"If the Yankees had gotten Cliff Lee, do you think they could beat the Orioles?" the caller asked. What a strange question, I thought.
"Why do you ask that?" I said.
"I just want to know what you think about that," he said.
"Well, if they had Cliff Lee, Tim Lincecum and Roger Clemens in his prime, plus a healthy Rivera and, and, let's say, a young Don Mattingly, I think they could hang with the Orioles," I said.
Yes, winning is fun, and you still get strange calls late on a Friday night whether the team is winning or not.
Other notes and thoughts from the latest win:
* Jake Arrieta continues to show that he has enormous talent. He just can't seem to flash it consistently. After giving up 13 runs in 10 innings over two starts, he needed that performance, and it was some outing by the right-hander. He entered with a career ERA of 12.48 against the Nats, 8.04 in six interleague starts, then went out and gave up just one run over seven innings.
* After a stretch of nine starts where the O's got just two quality starts from their pitchers and a starters' ERA of 7.25, Arrieta's outing was the Birds' fourth consecutive quality start, and the starters have worked to an ERA of 2.67 in that span.
* The Orioles are now 12 games over .500 for the first time since June 23, 2005 when they were 42-30.
* The Orioles improved the best road record in the majors to 14-5. They have now won eight road games in a row, their longest win streak since taking ten straight road games from August 29 to September 24, 1999.
* The Orioles keep winning the close ones, and they are now 7-3 in one-run games, 6-2 in extra-inning games and 15-4 in games decided by two runs or less.
Maybe the Orioles will be winning so much by next week that I'll get more interesting Friday night calls.
"Hey, Steve, if the Yankees traded for Albert Pujols..."