O’s pitching getting the job done down the home stretch

Wow, how are you holding up Orioles fans? So much tension, drama and nervous times with both the Orioles and Yankees games decided by one run and going down to the last pitch last night.

The Red Sox didn’t roll over, but they did blow the game, leading by two in the ninth and losing in the 12th to New York. It would be a shame if the Orioles get to play in just one playoff game this year, but that possibility is now staring us right in the face.

The only way to win the AL East now is force a one-game playoff on Thursday with an O’s win and Yankees loss tonight. Then the Orioles would have to win that or turn right around and play in a wild card game on Friday.

Heading down the home stretch, the Orioles’ pitching has certainly dialed it up as Miguel Gonzalez and the bullpen were superb last night. As the games seem to get bigger, Gonzalez seems as calm and poised as ever. Very, very impressive.

Over the last seven games, the Orioles have recorded six quality starts and an ERA of 2.31. The starters have 13 quality starts in the past 20 games, with an ERA of 3.06 in that stretch.

The O’s pitching staff has now allowed three runs or less in 10 of its last 14 games. Against Tampa Bay, the O’s staff has allowed two runs or less in eight of the last nine games, giving up a total of 15 runs in that span with three shutouts vs. the Rays.

A few other notes on the Birds:

* The Orioles lead the majors with a win percentage of .667 since Aug. 1, going 38-19.

* A win tonight would give the Orioles their 31st series win of 2012. That would be their most since the 1997 AL East champs also won 31 series. The Orioles are 13-2-3 in their last 18 series and are 9-2 this year in road series within the division.

* Matt Wieters has 81 RBIs this season as a catcher (and two as a DH). That is the third-most in a year by an O’s catcher behind Ramon Hernandez, who had 87 in 2006, and Chris Hoiles, who had 82 in 1993.

* Chris Davis’ homer last night was the Orioles’ 214th on the year, tying this year’s Orioles for second-most in club history.

257 - 1996 O’s
214 - 1985, 1998 and 2012 O’s

* Ryan Flaherty started at second base last night for the sixth time in the last seven games. The Orioles have a win percentage of .737 (14-5) when he starts there this year. They are playing .583 ball (56-40) when Robert Andino gets the start at second and .556 (15-12) with Omar Quintanilla there.

* The Orioles are 10-7 against Tampa Bay after last night’s win which clinched the O’s first winning season vs. the Rays since 2007. They are 6-1 in their past seven games vs. the Rays.

The Orioles this year vs. the AL East:
.722 vs. Boston (13-5)
.611 vs. Toronto (11-7)
.588 vs. Tampa Bay (10-7)
.500 vs. New York (9-9)

The last time the Orioles had a .500 or better record against each team in the AL East was 1970 (13-5 vs. Boston, 11-7 vs. Detroit, 14-4 vs. Cleveland, 11-7 vs. New York and 7-5 vs. Milwaukee). The Orioles are playing .606 ball in the division at 43-28, and the last time the Birds had a higher winning percentage in the division was 1980 at .628 (49-29).

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