The Baltimore Orioles continue to push towards their first postseason appearance since 1997. They try to get one step closer to securing a spot on Friday when they begin a three-game series with the Boston Red Sox at Camden Yards.
Baltimore enters this set trailing the New York Yankees by one game in the American League East standings, but still maintains a three-game edge for one of the two wild cards.
"There's no stress in here, there's no pressure on us," outfielder Adam Jones said Wednesday. "We're not supposed to be here according to everybody in the media. We're just playing. We know what's at stake."
Baltimore managed just its second win in five games on Wednesday, as Chris Davis and Manny Machado each homered twice and Orioles, who tied a franchise single-game record for home runs to come through with a 12-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Orioles belted seven homers as a team, including three during a five-run fifth inning.
"This is one of those years where everyone is just trying to pass the baton and have a good at-bat," O's manager Buck Showalter said.
Davis finished with five RBI, delivering a three-run homer in the fifth and a two-run shot in the seventh, while the rookie Machado put together his first multi-homer game in the majors and knocked in three runs in the rout.
Nate McLouth, Jim Thome and Mark Reynolds also went deep to back seven sharp innings from Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez (8-4). The rookie held the Blue Jays to two runs and five hits while walking just one.
Hoping for similar support on Friday will be Chris Tillman, who has become the team's ace in the second half and is 8-2 with a 3.08 ERA. Tillman did not get a decision against the Red Sox on Sunday, but pitched well, as he allowed a run and six hits in six innings of a 2-1 setback.
"He gave us a really good chance," manager Buck Showalter said of Tillman. "If we had done a couple of things defensively, he would have probably pitched seven or eight [innings]. Tilly threw the ball well, and [we] had some good innings out of the bullpen."
Tillman has faced the Red Sox four times and is 0-1 with a 4.24 ERA.
The Red Sox will counter with veteran right-hander Aaron Cook, who is 4-10 with a 5.13 ERA. Cook was awful his last time out on Saturday against the O's, but escaped without getting a decision, despite surrendering five runs and nine hits in 5 1/3 frames of his team's 9-6 loss.
Cook is 0-2 in three starts versus the Orioles with an 8.78 ERA.
Boston, meanwhile, continues to stumble toward the finish line and enters this series having lost six of seven after getting swept in a two-game set by the Tampa Bay Rays.
"We didn't walk off many and we didn't score enough runs here. We have a lot stored up for next year," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said of his team's struggles at home this season.
Baltimore took two of three from the Red Sox last weekend and is 10-5 against them this season.