The Baltimore Orioles shut out the Toronto Blue Jays 12-0 to move into a share of first place in the American League East with the New York Yankees, who lost their third game in a row, 5-2 to the Tampa Bay Rays.
The results give the Orioles a share of the AL East lead in September for the first time since 1997, when they last won the division and advanced to the Major League Baseball playoffs. Baltimore has won 21 of its past 29 games.
“We’re just having a good time and we’re not putting pressure on ourselves,” said Mark Reynolds, who drove in four runs last night for Baltimore. “We’re just taking it day by day and having fun.”
The win at Rogers Centre in Toronto takes the Orioles to 76-59, the same mark as the Yankees, who had a 10-game lead over Baltimore on July 18. The Rays are 1 1/2 games back in third place. The Oakland Athletics, who lost 6-1 to the Los Angeles Angels last night, are tied with the Orioles and Yankees atop the AL wildcard standings.
“We’ve had a tough time scoring runs the last couple of weeks,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi told reporters. “It’s hard to win if you don’t hit.”
The last time the Yankees didn’t hold sole possession of the AL East lead was June 11, when they were tied with the Rays at 35-25 and the Orioles were one game behind.
“It’s a big deal,” Reynolds told reporters. “Us, the Yankees and the Rays are all right there. Oakland is having a good run right now. We can’t take anything for granted.”
The Orioles, who recorded a season-high 18 hits last night in shutting out the Blue Jays for the second consecutive game, conclude their three-game series in Toronto tonight before hosting the Yankees in a four-game series.
Baltimore pitcher Zach Britton (5-1) earned his fourth straight victory, allowing four hits and striking out eight in seven scoreless innings.
“He’s really in a good place right now,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “He was pretty relentless tonight, he kept pounding the zone.”
Reynolds hit a three-run homer in the fifth inning and sent home Matt Wieters during Baltimore’s five-run eighth inning.
At Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, Evan Longoria hit his 10th home run of the season in the third inning to give the Rays a 3-2 lead. Desmond Jennings and B.J. Upton followed with back-to-back home runs in the fifth to cap Tampa Bay’s scoring.
Robinson Cano gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead in the first inning with his 29th home run of the season.
Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb (9-8) allowed two runs on four hits and struck out five in seven innings. Fernando Rodney earned his 42nd save of the season.
Freddy Garcia (7-6) took the loss, giving up five runs over 5 1/3 innings.