Today's live blog: Orioles vs. Yankees

The series finale has arrived for the Orioles and Yankees. The Birds need a win to erase the memory of letting yesterday's game get away and to pull to within two games of first place in the AL East.

Check back here on today's live blog often as I add notes, stats, facts and commentary throughout today's game. The readers can keep the dialogue going too, by leaving comments and/or questions on anything about the Orioles or the O's minors.

Tillman's velo: This chart shows that Tillman's average fastball velocity is up this year over recent years. However, he has not averaged 95 in any start as he did in his first this year at Seattle on July 4. Some say the gun in Seattle is up a tick or two over some other places.

Chris Dickerson hit his two-run homer off a fastball that looked to be clocked at 89 mph on the MASN telecast. Then Tillman came back later in the inning to strikeout Derek Jeter on a heater that was listed at 93.

Today's pitchers: Chris Tillman (7-2, 3.26 ERA) makes his 11th start for the Orioles. He was excellent on Tuesday against Chicago, giving up just one hit over seven shutout innings. Over his last three starts, Tillman is 2-0 with a 2.95 ERA.

Tillman beat the Yankees on July 31, even after giving up five runs in the first inning. He is 2-3 with an 8.42 ERA in six career starts vs. the Yankees.

Right-hander Phil Hughes (13-11, 4.02 ERA) makes his 27th start. He has pitched exactly seven innings in his last three starts, working to an ERA of 1.29. In 14 home starts, he is 10-3 with an ERA of 3.25. In his last seven home starts, he is 6-0 with an ERA of 1.62.

Here is a strange stat: Even though he's a righty, Hughes gives up a batting average of just .199 against left-handed hitters while that figure is .321 vs. right-handed batters.

In two starts this year, Hughes is 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA against the Orioles and in 15 career games, he is 5-3 with a 5.00 ERA vs. Baltimore.

The run differential debate: We are finally and thankfully hearing less about the Orioles and run differential. It is the stat that has confounded the critics all year about this club as they try to figure out how a club with such a poor run differential can have such a good record. The obvious answer is the club's amazing 46-19 record in one- and two-run games.

The O's have had some wins lately that helped that stat, beating Toronto 8-2, Chicago 6-0 and the Yankees 6-1.

But the Orioles are a minus-40 on the year even though they are 14 games over .500. By contrast, Toronto has a better differential (minus-32) even though the Blue Jays are 12 games under .500.

The O's previous series in New York shows how little the stat has meant to this club. They won the first two games of that series by 5-4 and 11-5, but fell in the finale 12-3. They were outscored 21-19 in a series they took two games to one. It's taking two of three that really matters.

There is some importance to run differential. Only five teams with a negative one have ever made the playoffs. It can tell you something about a team. It can't tell you everything as the 2012 Orioles prove almost every day.

Wolf on in the fourth: Randy Wolf entered today's game in the last of the fourth as Tillman exited with right elbow stiffness.

Wolf went 3-10 with a 5.69 ERA with the Brewers this year and was 0-3 with a 6.94 ERA in four starts in August. One member of the O's organization I spoke with said his stuff was said to be good, but he wasn't getting results. Not sure why that would be, but he's thrown right into the fire in New York today.

Aberdeen's Hutter honored: The Aberdeen IronBirds have named infielder Joel Hutter their Player of the Year for 2012. The O's 10th-round pick out of Dallas Baptist in June, Hutter hit .264 with no homers and 28 RBIs in 61 games. He led the IronBirds in doubles and RBIs.

Reynolds stats: After his three-run homer in the sixth that was his second homer in two innings today, Mark Reynolds is 4-for-9 this weekend with four homers and seven RBIs. He is the first opposing player since David Ortiz in July 2003 to have two multi-homer games in one series at Yankee Stadium.

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