a 2012 Baltimore Orioles Baseball: Orioles vs Blue Jays
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The Most Important Game of the Year for the Orioles



Baltimore Orioles hats & merchandise After splitting the doubleheader against the Jays on Monday, the   Baltimore Orioles   (88-67) entered last night's contest 1.5 games behind the   New York Yankees   (90-66) for first place in the AL East.

The Birds and Bombers have been back and forth, tied or separated by just one or two games, for the entire month of September. There were only eight games left entering the third game of the four-game set on Tuesday evening, and the Yankees seem to be unstoppable as of late.

Every contest from here on out is a must-win game for the Orioles. 

Last night's contest against the Jays was no different, as I mentioned in yesterday's blog post. Even if the Yankees were to lose to the Twins, they would still need to win in order to pick up a full game. 

The Twins have struggled all season long and are one of the worst teams in the AL, while the Yankees have been extremely hot recently. We are lucky the Twins were able to win one of the first two games. It's hard to imagine that Minnesota will win the three-game set on Wednesday afternoon.

Regardless of whether the Bronx Bombers win the matinee, the Orioles need to win tonight's game, collect themselves and be ready for the final six games of the year.

After the Birds strung together a six-game winning streak on their last road trip, they have lost the last three of four and seem to be playing as if they are tired. 

Sunday's game was evident of the fact that most of the player's have been in the lineup day in and day out due to key injuries. Everyone seems to be wearing down at the same time.

Unfortunately, now is no the right time.

Tonight is the final meeting between the Jays and the Birds this season. After winning the first game of the doubleheader on Monday afternoon, Baltimore ensured a season-series victory over Toronto as they notched their 10th win in 16 games.

The Orioles will send one of the most surprising young arms from the starting rotation, rookie   Miguel Gonzalez   (7-4, 3.52 ERA).

No one had hear of the 28-year-old RHP before this season. Since his call-up at the end of May, he has been the Orioles most consistent starting pitcher (Chris Tillman has been their best pitcher since the middle of July).

In his last outing on Friday night in Boston, he tossed 6.1 innings, allowed two earned runs on seven base hits earning his seventh win of the year. He last face the Jays on September 5th after he surrendered five earned runs on seven base hits over 6.1 innings. He suffered his fourth loss of the year, and his first to the Jays.

In two outings against Toronto, the Orioles' right has tossed 9.2 innings and sports an inflated 5.59 ERA (he's only made one start).

The Jays will attempt to win the final game of the year against the Black and Orange by sending RHP   Carlos Villanueva   (7-6, 3.88 ERA) to the hill. The 28-year-old Dominican is 2-2 with a 5.09 ERA in 35.1 innings in his career against the Birds.

However, over his last two starts versus the Orioles, he is 0-2 and has allowed 10 earned runs in 12.1 innings. 

In suffered his sixth loss of the season in his last outing, he surrendered just two earned runs on four base hits over 6.1 innings against the first-place Texas Rangers.

Tonight should be an interesting match-up as Gonzalez has been one of the best pitcher's at home recently. Over his last three outings, all Orioles wins, he sports a 2-0 record with an impressive 2.25  ERA.

There is no doubt the Orioles have the pressure on them to win tonight's game. The Yankees are currently beating the Twins this afternoon 6-1 in just the top of the 3rd inning.

It seems as if the Yankees are on their way to a win, so the Birds need to win tonight in order to stay 1.5 games out. 

Fortunately, the Orioles have an off day tomorrow. However, that could also hurt the Birds since the Yankees open a four-game set with the Jays tomorrow night. As long as the Orioles win tonight, they will be at worst, two games out heading into the week. 

If the Birds lose tonight, then the Yankees could open a three-game lead in the East, which the Orioles will most likely not be able to overcome with just six games remaining after tomorrow.


Other Notes

On another note, future star and top prospect   Dylan Bundy tossed a scoreless inning in his Camden Yards debut   last night against the Jays. So far in two appearances, he has not yielded an earned run over 1.2 innings.

It will be interesting to see how the Birds will use him if they make it to the playoffs. Some reports say that he will not even be added to the playoff roster, while others proclaim he will be pitching out of the pen.

Recently acquired LHP veteran Randy Wolf, who has made a couple of starts for the Birds since the deal, could be   lost for the remainder of the season due to discomfort in his elbow .

If the Birds were to make if to the playoffs, Wolf was going to be primarily used out of the pen as a long-man, or even a left-handed specialist to compliment the hard-throwing LHP Troy Patton.  



By: Alex Van Rees
MLBCenter.com Staff Writer

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