Playoff watch: Orioles blow late lead

September, 11, 2013
9/11/13
1:25
AM ET
Some quick thoughts on Tuesday's results and a look forward to Wednesday.

Blown opportunity No. 1: The Orioles led the Yankees 4-1 after Chris Davis belted a big two-run homer in the fifth off Ivan Nova, but Alfonso Soriano and Mark Reynolds homered off Miguel Gonzalez in the sixth. Then it got interesting. Kevin Gausman had a one-two-three seventh inning, striking out Lyle Overbay and Brett Gardner, so Buck Showalter brought the rookie back out for the eighth. It's an inning Showalter might manage differently in an alternate universe. Alex Rodriguez doubled to lead off the inning, but Showalter left Gausman in to face Robinson Cano instead of bringing in lefty Brian Matusz. Cano singled to tie the game, and then Soriano homered again. No Matusz, no Tommy Hunter, no Francisco Rodriguez (until the lead had been surrendered). Hunter had pitched the day before but not two days prior. Matusz ended up pitching in the ninth anyway. Showalter put faith in his rookie, but Matusz versus Cano seemed like the obvious matchup there, with Hunter or Rodriguez facing Soriano.

Blown opportunity No. 2: Like the Orioles, the Indians had a chance to pick up a game on the Rays with Tampa Bay losing to Boston. They had 12 hits but grounded into three double plays, and the Royals won 6-3. Carlos Pena did not pinch-hit.

Blown opportunity No. 3: The A's led the Twins 3-2 in the eighth with a chance to pick up a game on the second-place Rangers, who would lose to the Pirates. The A's had lost just four games all season when they led heading into the eighth, but Sean Doolittle gave up a single and Ryan Cook entered to face Josh Willingham, who promptly deposited the baseball on the wrong side of the fence (for Oakland) -- the first homer Cook had allowed to a right-handed batter this season.

Pitching performance of the day: David Price allowed three hits in eight innings for the Rays. Unfortunately, two came in the same inning, as Boston scored twice in the fifth and Clay Buchholz and three relievers combined on a four-hit shutout.

At-bat of the night: Milwaukee's Wily Peralta had a no-hitter going in a 0-0 tie in the sixth inning against St. Louis. With two outs and Matt Carpenter on after a walk, Peralta fired a first-pitch, 95 mph fast one and Matt Holliday crushed it 426 feet to center field. The Cardinals went on to a 4-2 win.

Most important win: The Yankees climbed back to just two games behind the Rays.

Most important loss: Tough one for the Orioles, but at least Tampa Bay also lost. With St. Louis and Pittsburgh both winning, the Reds dropped three games behind the Cards and two behind the Pirates after losing to the Cubs (and Tony Cingrani left in the second inning with a back injury).

Wednesday's best pitching matchup: A.J. Burnett versus Matt Garza (Pirates at Rangers, 2:05 p.m. ET). The Rangers are now 3-8 over their past 11 games, averaging fewer than three runs per game in that stretch. Garza likely needs a big effort as the Pirates go for the sweep. He's allowed four-plus runs in six of his past seven starts, not exactly what the Rangers expected when they traded for him.

Players to watch: Pedro Alvarez, Pirates, and Curtis Granderson, Yankees. Two similar lefty hitters -- home runs when they connect, but connecting can be a problem. Over the past two weeks, Alvarez is hitting .143/.217/.238 and Granderson is hitting .135/.200/.243.

David Schoenfield | email

SweetSpot blogger

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