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The Orioles Are Your AL East Spoilers

At least CC Sabathia didn't tease fans who'd come to see him earn his twentieth win last night: Five batters into the game, he'd already allowed three Orioles runners to score (even if one of those runs really ought to be charged to Jorge Posada and his inability to catch a throw). The Orioles, it seems, had a game plan: swing early in the count and make Sabathia pay for, as he put it, "trying to be aggressive in the strike zone."

This probably wouldn't have happened against Baltimore earlier in the season, before Peter Angelos unfortunately realized that hiring someone who had, you know, managerial experience might be a good idea. But in came Buck Showalter, and off went the O's: Last night they improved to 21–13 under their new manager and Keith Olbermann hater, and in the past week alone, they've taken two of three from Tampa Bay and the first two games of the series against the Yankees. They also accomplished something no team had done since last July: They beat Sabathia in a regular-season game in the Bronx.

Which isn't to say the Yankees didn't have their chances in this one. A couple of early double plays killed any chance of a rally; they'd strand Posada on second with no one out in the fifth; and they couldn't score even a single run in a wild seventh inning. The key at bat: With runners on first and second third, Alex Rodriguez — in pursuit of the first pinch hit of his career — hit a line drive that Josh Bell knocked down in such a way that he was able to force out Curtis Granderson at second. Them's the breaks, as they say.

This afternoon, the Orioles go for their first three-game sweep in the Bronx since 1986. Brad Bergesen gets the start for the O's against Ivan Nova.

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Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images