Orioles Power Takes Opener – Tie Yankees for Division Lead

Orioles News

Mark Reynolds Hit 2 Of Baltimore’s 6 Home Runs

I was nine years old the last time the Baltimore Orioles bothered me.

Let’s put it in an even stronger perspective. In 1996, when Derek Jeter‘s controversial Game One home run initiated what would be a five game ALCS victory and future World Series title for the Yankees, Reds’ third baseman, Todd Frazier, was two years away from winning the Little League World Series for Toms River, New Jersey.

That’s how long it’s been since I cared whether the Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles.

In 2012 we find ourselves back in 1996, but with a twist. While New York survived a devastating sweep in Tampa, coming back to win the finale, the Rays now sit two games back of a tied division race and didn’t exist back then. All three teams can theoretically make the playoffs, but Detroit, LA and Oakland can all ruin that if ANY of them finish with a better record (and Chicago and Texas don’t collapse).

So chances are, this is for real. Chances are, one of these three teams will not be playing in October and now we are in September.

Baltimore showed it still has the magic that has been there the entire season with a 10-6 victory today. The Orioles did almost everything right. Four runs off Yankees’ starter, David Phelps, in the first inning to get the crowd going. A 6-1 lead in the eighth inning. Then, after a two-out, rare comeback by the Yankees (who have struggled with “clutch” or “situational” hitting this year) tied the game at 6-6, Baltimore erupted again in the eighth.

Every statistical metric except overall record favors the Yankees. The remainder of the schedule favors the Yankees.┬áThe venue the two teams are playing right now, this year, favors the Yankees. Yet the Orioles did what they have done all season. Even when the bullpen had a rare meltdown, Adam Jones, Mark Reynolds and Chris Davis all answered with long balls in the eighth. It was the first time the Orioles hit six home runs off the Yankees in decades. It was the third time this season Mark Reynolds homered twice off the Yankees in a game and the eighth time he’s hit a long ball in seven games.

The Orioles are hot, healthy, and confident at the right time. The Yankees are waiting for Ivan Nova, Andy Pettitte and Mark Teixeira to return. Phil Hughes has been hot and cold. David Phelps lately has just been cold. Dave Robertson and Joba Chamberlain, to varying degrees have struggled. Freddy Garcia is not going to carry this team. CC Sabathia has not done it either this season.

Ultimately, even if the Orioles won the season series and swept the Yankees out of Baltimore, they still would have just a three game lead and chances are New York, at worst, would be tied with the Rays. The problem is the Yankees would need to find a way to start getting hot again, and Baltimore has already done that. It’s the Orioles in the opener who had more clutch hits, defensive plays, and big outs. New York will be lucky to split a four-game series and head out of Camden Yards with a one game lead.

But even then, there is a crowd in Baltimore in September. My disdain has switched from a pure red to a clear orange. The Baltimore Orioles, regardless of if they win the division, a wild card, fall just short, or lose out the rest of the year, are completely relevant again.

And unless the Yankees turn it around soon, they’re in trouble.