With just under a month remaining in the season, the inexperienced Baltimore Orioles have not shown any signs of fear of a September playoff race.
On Tuesday, the Orioles shut out the Toronto Blue Jays for the second straight day in a 12-0 win and picked up their fifth victory in their last six games and tied the New York Yankees for first place in the American League East.
Zach Britton (5-1) tossed another stellar outing for the O's. He scattered four hits and a pair of walks with eight strikeouts in seven innings to win his fourth straight start.
Over that span, Britton has pitched to a 0.96 earned run average with 29 strikeouts in 28 2/3 innings.
"I'm starting to get a better feel for all my pitches," Britton said. "I'm just trying to be as aggressive as possible."
Mark Reynolds blasted a three-run home run, his fifth in his last five games, and knocked in four runs in the second installment of this three-game set.
Carlos Villanueva (7-5) received the loss for the fifth time in his last six decisions. He gave up a season-high six runs on seven hits.
"They capitalized on elevated pitches inside the strike zone," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said of the Orioles against Villanueva, who lasted 6 2/3 innings.
After the Blue Jays picked up all four of their hits over the first four innings and could not score, the Orioles went ahead.
Adam Jones led off the fifth with a ground-rule double. Following a Chris Davis walk, Reynolds crushed a towering three-run home run to left field.
Nick Markakis singled, moved to third on J.J. Hardy's double and scored on Nate McLouth's fly ball to center field in the sixth to expand the lead to four.
Baltimore tacked on three more runs in the seventh. Davis opened the frame with a base hit before Manny Machado ripped a double. Robert Andino scored Davis and moved Machado to third with a fly ball. Machado then came home on Aaron Loup's balk.
Markakis followed the balk with a double then scored when Hardy singled to open up a seven-run lead.
The Orioles poured on five more runs in the eighth inning. Jones and Matt Wieters singled to start the inning and Davis drove in a run with a double. Chad Beck replaced Loup but gave up back-to-back base hits to Reynolds and Machado to score two more. Two batters later, Markakis ripped a ground-rule double and, after Beck committed an error, McLouth singled home Machado to cap the scoring.
Kevin Gregg pitched a perfect eighth and Zach Phillips retired the Jays in order in the ninth to seal the victory.
Baltimore picked up 18 hits...Toronto has lost nine of their last 12 games at Rogers Centre...The Blue Jays have lost four straight games...Markakis, who went 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles, an RBI and two runs scored, improved to .350 with 15 doubles, five home runs, 33 runs and 28 RBI in 50 games since moving to the leadoff spot...Baltimore went 7-for-14 with runners in scoring position and stranded six...Toronto went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left six on base.