During a season in which he has come up with several big pitching performances for the Orioles, Miguel Gonzalez may have come up with his best tonight.
Against a Tampa Bay team that scored seven runs off him in just 2 2/3 innings in his worst outing of the year on July 25, Gonzalez pitched scoreless ball over 6 1/3 innings tonight as the Orioles beat Tampa Bay 1-0 to stay in the hunt for a division championship going into the season's final day.
The Orioles improve to 93-68 with the victory. Should New York lose tonight to Boston, the O's and Yankees will be tied for the American League East lead entering the regular season's final day. As of the end of the Orioles game, Boston is leading the Yankees 3-1 in the ninth.
Gonzalez was one run better than James Shields, who was also outstanding. Gonzalez allowed just two singles with two walks and seven strikeouts over 101 pitches. He improved to 9-4 with an ERA of 3.25.
He held Tampa hitless in three at-bats with runners in scoring position. He struck out Evan Longoria looking at a 92 mph fastball with two on in the last of the sixth.
Gonzalez has an ERA of 2.10 over his past four starts. In 10 starts since Aug. 1, he is 6-2 with an ERA of 2.49.
The Orioles bullpen was outstanding again as Brian Matusz, Darren O'Day and Jim Johnson combined for 2 2/3 shutout innings. Johnson picked up his major league-leading 51st save.
Shields, meanwhile, gave up just two hits with no walks, fanned a career-high 15 and lost this amazing pitchers' duel.
Amazingly, the game's only run came on Chris Davis' homer. He hit a bomb out 440 feet to center field in the fourth and it was his 33rd homer of the year as he broke a team with Adam Jones for the team lead.
Davis has now homered in six consecutive games, joining Reggie Jackson as the only players to ever do that in O's history. Jackson homered in six straight games from July 18-23, 1976.
Over his past six games, Davis is 9-for-21 with seven homers and 13 RBIs. He is batting .436 (17-for-39) during an 11-game hitting streak. Davis has hit 15 homers in his past 34 games.
The Orioles improved to 29-9 in one-run games, won for the 12th time in 16 games and the 38th in the last 55 contests.
Update: Raul Ibanez hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth off Andrew Bailey, pulling the Yankees into a 3-3 tie.
The Red Sox held the Yankees after that, and the game is going to the 10th inning.
Update II: Ibanez did it again, slapping a seeing-eye single to left for a 4-3 Yankees win in 12 innings. That means the Yankees lead by one game heading to the season's 162nd. A win by New York or a loss by the Orioles on Wednesday will give the Yankees the AL East. An O's win and a Yankees loss will mean a one-game playoff Thursday at Camden Yards, with the winner getting the division title and the loser heading to the wild card game.