While the New York Yankees are trying to make baseball history this season, who would notice the Baltimore Orioles? The Boston Red Sox might.
The Yankees' incredible season notwithstanding, the Orioles have been the hottest team in baseball since the All-Star break with a 28-8 record. Their 3-2 victory Monday night over the Minnesota Twins moved the Orioles within 61/2 games of the Red Sox for the AL wild-card spot.The Orioles once trailed Boston by as many as 15 1/2 games.
"It's pretty much like facing the Yankees - they make you throw good pitches," Minnesota pitcher LaTroy Hawkins said of the Orioles. "You're not going to strike out many of their guys because they have a lot of professional hitters over there."
Meanwhile, the Yankees continued to roll with a 7-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals. With a 91-30 record, the Yankees are on pace to break the 1906 Chicago Cubs' record of 116 wins.
ORIOLES 3, TWINS 2: At Baltimore, Scott Erickson (13-9) allowed two runs and seven hits in seven innings and matched his career high with 10 strikeouts.
Jimmy Key pitched a perfect eighth and Armando Benitez got three outs for his 18th save. Hawkins (7-12) was the loser.
YANKEES 7, ROYALS 1: At Kansas City, David Cone became the first 18-game winner in the major leagues, and Tino Martinez, Tim Raines and Bernie Williams homered.
The Yankees, 61 games over .500 for the first time since the 1939 club finished 106-45, have an outside chance of clinching their division before the end of August.
Cone (18-4) allowed the one run and five hits in seven innings, and Chili Davis returned from the disabled list with an RBI single that made it 2-0 against Jose Rosado (6-9). Davis hadn't played since the second game of the season.
INDIANS 4, DEVIL RAYS 3: At Cleveland, rookie Richie Sexson was 3-for-4 with his first major league homer and two RBIs as the Indians beat Wilson Alvarez (5-12) and won for just the 18th time in 38 games since the All-Star break.
Cecil Fielder, signed last Thursday, made his first start for Cleveland and was 0-for-4. Manny Ramirez hit his 29th homer.
MARINERS 3, TIGERS 1: At Seattle, Jamie Moyer (10-8) beat Detroit for the third time this season and Ken Griffey Jr. doubled twice.
Griffey, who leads the major leagues with 72 extra-base hits, was 2-for-4, striking out and flying out. His league-leading home run total remained at 42, and he has just one in his last 58 at-bats.
ANGELS 7, WHITE SOX 2: At Anaheim, rookie Chris Pritchett drove in four runs and Phil Nevin hit a two-run homer as Anaheim won for the seventh time in nine games.
Steve Sparks (7-2) won his fourth consecutive decision, helping Anaheim increase its AL West lead over Texas to one game.
BLUE JAYS 4, ATHLETICS 2: At Oakland, Jose Canseco broke a fifth-inning tie with his 33rd homer and Kelvim Escobar won as a starter for the first time.
With the score 2-2, Canseco homered on a 1-2 pitch from Tom Candiotti (8-14). Shawn Green added his 23rd, a ninth-inning shot off Buddy Groom.
PHILLIES 4, ASTROS 0: At Philadelphia, most everyone at Veterans Stadium expected a great pitching performance, and there was one - by Paul Byrd, not Randy Johnson.
Looking like the ace instead of the journeyman, Byrd outpitched Johnson and also lined a single off the Big Unit.
Byrd, claimed off waivers three days earlier, had spent almost the whole season in the minors and had never pitched more than six innings in the majors.
Facing the top-scoring offense in the NL, Byrd threw a four-hitter - all singles - and did not permit a runner past first base. The 27-year-old right-hander struck out six and walked one for his first major league win since last Sept. 18 for Atlanta.
While Byrd (1-0) breezed, Johnson struggled.
Johnson (3-1) had overpowered the NL since being traded by Seattle on July 31 and was coming off two straight shutouts, including one against the Phillies.
Johnson left after the fifth trailing 3-0 after allowing six hits and four walks, with just three strikeouts.
DIAMONDBACKS 6, EXPOS 1: At Phoenix, David Dellucci hit a three-run triple and Andy Benes won his fourth consecutive start.
Benes (11-11) limited the Expos to one run and three hits in eight innings, dropping Montreal to 0-7 on its road trip. He retired his final 13 batters, reaching .500 for the first time since he was 3-3 in mid-May.