The Rays Tank: The Orioles In Flight

September 4, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano (24) reacts after he stuck out in the ninth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay Rays defeated the New York Yankees 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

With the Rays win over the Yankees last night, coupled with the Orioles win over the Blue Jays, something remarkable has happened: the Baltimore Orioles are actually sitting in first place in the AL East today. They've continued to flout all the doubters and keep on winning, and if anything, they've only gotten hotter and hotter. They are 8-2 over their last 10 games, and although their overall run differential is still negative, they have shrunk it considerably so that they're now a "mere" -19.

This is probably common knowledge to most, but this marks the first time that the Orioles have been in first place in the division this late in the season since 1997. That was the last time the Orioles had a dominant team, winning 98 games and losing in the ALCS to the Cleveland Indians.

This year's Baltimore Orioles may not be the prettiest, and they certainly are surprising me every day, but I also can't help but root for them. Watching them reminds me of the Rays' magical 2008 season, and I'm sure their fans are going through many of the same emotions that we went through around that time. Go O's, and here's rooting for a world where the Yankees and Red Sox both don't make the playoffs!

  • Two interesting pieces of news in the Times today: the Rays are debating about sending Chris Archer down to Double-A in order to keep him loose, and Jeff Niemann is going to see Dr. James Andrew about his shoulder. Archer would be sent down in order to keep him pitching, and the Rays could call him up at some point in order to rest Alex Cobb down the stretch. As for Nieman...well, that doesn't sound good.
  • Over at TPR, R.J. Anderson noted that James Shields and Alex Cobb both eschewed their change-ups against the Yankees in favor of a greater percentage of fastballs. Were they intentionally giving the Yankees a different look, maybe one they weren't expecting? It seems plausible, considering how many times the Rays and Yanks face each other over the course of a season.
  • FanGraphs has introduced a new fantasy game: FanGraphs The Game, Football Edition. It works just like the baseball version works -- you create a fictional character and build up their stats over the season -- so if you're into football, go for it. Personally, I'm waiting for the hockey version to come out.
  • With Kevin Goldstein leaving BPro for the Astros, the staff at Prospectus is revamping their prospects coverage. Jason Parks is now in charge of it, and they'll be hiring regional prospect staff that will be scouting players and providing write-ups.
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