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Legends On Deck

Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox Battle for Early AL Summit

(Photo by Tim Olewniczak/LegendsOnDeck)

(Photo by Tim Olewniczak/LegendsOnDeck)

Nearly one month into the 2016 season, few if any predicted that the Baltimore Orioles would stand atop the mountain that is the American League East. The AL East promises to be a tight divisional race all season long with just five and a half games currently separating the first and last place teams. The Orioles have performed well in the early-going but whether or not they can sustain this pace remains to be seen.

Baltimore is in the midst of a four-game series with the Chicago White Sox who have the AL’s best record. The White Sox have compiled a record of 16-8 and winning percentage of .667 so far this season. The Orioles’ record of 14-8 and .636 winning percentage is a close second in the AL. Two games remain in this series giving the Birds an opportunity to match Chicago’s current win total and perhaps climb another mountain to reach the AL summit.

Through the opening two games of this series, the Orioles have shown why they currently are the AL East’s top team. The White Sox were riding a six-game winning streak when they arrived at Camden Yards. However, the Orioles put an end to Chicago’s winning streak by earning two straight victories.

The White Sox established an early lead against Baltimore on Thursday thanks to a home run by Todd Frazier that also drove in Jose Abreu. These two runs were the only scores by Chicago in this contest. The O’s Adam Jones responded with a double that brought home Manny Machado for a score in the bottom of the first.

In the bottom of the third, a Machado double, Chris Davis home run, and a Mark Trumbo home run helped cap off a four run inning for Baltimore. The highlight of the game came during the bottom of the sixth inning when Machado scored on a grand slam that also brought home Nolan Reimold, Jonathan Schoop, and Joey Rickard. Game one of the series was a blowout in Birdland as Mychal Givens got the win in this 10-2 final.

Game two of the four game series was a closely fought battle. The White Sox again established an early lead from an Avisail Garcia triple that drove home Melky Cabrera. The 1-0 Chicago lead stuck until the bottom of the fifth when a Schoop single batted in Matt Wieters and a Rickard ground out allowed Reimold to score.

The White Sox knotted the game up at three heading into the bottom of the seventh inning. With J.J. Hardy and Wieters both on base, Reimold hit his third homer of the season to make it 6-3 Orioles. Chicago came very close to changing the score and perhaps the outcome of this contest but a great effort by Orioles’ closer Zach Britton helped secure the victory.

Tonight the clubs will meet for game three in another clash of the current AL titans. By winning the first two games of this series, the Orioles head into tonight’s game with a 9-1 record at Camden Yards which is the best home record in MLB. After dropping three straight games, the Orioles have responded with a three-game winning streak defeating the Tampa Bay Rays and two wins against the White Sox. Baltimore will look to build on their recent success against Chicago to maintain their status as one of the AL’s top teams.

Tim Olewniczak

Tim is a proud alumnus of the University at Buffalo and a published historian. He previously wrote for TheHockeyWriters.com where he covered the Minnesota Wild and Buffalo Sabres of the NHL. He has been writing for Legends On Deck since April 2015 covering the Baltimore Orioles.