Baltimore Orioles: Long balls help the Birds in CHASING OCTOBER

Coming into tonight’s game against Toronto, Ryan Mountcastle hadn’t homered for the Baltimore Orioles since July 3rd. One of the stranger storylines of the past month or so. Nevertheless, Jordan Lyles got the start in the series opener against Toronto, a game that ironically was Toronto’s first visit of the year to Camden Yards. Lyles’ line: 5.2 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 1 K.

This series is huge in the grand scheme of the playoff chase. Toronto came in as the top Wild Card team. And the Orioles of course are competing for a playoff birth. Can we officially say that yet? I feel like we can. And we should.

The O’s took an early 3-0 lead when Ramon Urias smacked a three-run homer in the last of the first. Biggio would get Toronto on the board in the third with a solo shot, but the O’s would get their three-run margin back in the bottom of the inning on Anthony Santander’s solo homer.

Ryan Mountcastle tacked another run on in the fourth, again with a solo home run. It was Mountcastle’s first home run since July 3rd. It would really help the playoff push if he would heat up right about now. He certainly made a difference tonight.

The teams would swap solo homers in the sixth, with Austin Hays hitting one out for the O’s. Tonight was Hays’ return to the lineup after being hurt for a few games. And similarly, now would be the time to heat up if you’re Austin Hays.

Toronto would put two runs across in the eighth, and bring the tying run to the plate. The Oriole bullpen bent…but it didn’t break. Felix Bautista came on to get the final two outs of the inning, and did so by inducing an inning-ending double-play.

Mountcastle would strike again in the last of the eighth, with an RBI-single. That ran the score to 7-4 (in the Orioles’ favor), and acted as an insurance run given that Toronto put two on in the ninth. But the Orioles’ pen was strong once again, with Bautista grounding into a game-ending double-play.

What the Orioles are doing is nothing short of amazing. Brandon Hyde deserves more than just token consideration for Manager of the Year. But more importantly, the Orioles are in this thing, and they have a real shot. Whether they make it or not remains to be seen.

But one way or the other, the Orioles are no fluke. They haven’t just lucked into winning games. They’re a “good team.” And the math says that they’re CHASING OCTOBER.

The series continues tomorrow at Camden Yards. Kyle Bradish gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Alek Manoah. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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