For most of the 2012 season, Mark Reynolds was a disappointment. His production – 12 HR 42 RBI entering Friday’s game – was way down from what he did in 2011, when he hit 37 home runs and drove in 86 runs, both team highs.
However, he has recently been a very pleasant surprise as a first baseman, solidifying the position defensively, while not quite putting up the kind of numbers you’d hope for from a corner infielder.
This weekend in the Bronx though, Reynolds got hot enough with the bat to almost single-handedly carry the O’s to a series win over the first place Yankees.
On Friday, Reynolds went 3-for-5 with two home runs, four RBI, and three runs scored (click the link for highlights from MLB.com) as the Birds took the opener by a score of 6-1. He also made two great diving plays at first base to stifle any potential Yankee rallies.
On Sunday, after the Yanks had capitalized on a bevy of O’s miscues on Saturday to even the series at one game apiece, Reynolds again wielded the big stick to propel the Birds to the victory. The first baseman was 2-for-4 with two home runs, four RBI, and two runs scored (click for highlights from MLB.com), and his three-run shot in the top of the sixth helped put the Bronx Bombers to sleep for good.
In the three game set, Reynolds was a stellar 5-for-11 with four home runs, five runs scored, seven RBI, and two walks. If Mark can stay hot like this, his bat has the ability to carry the Birds for a week or two.
By taking two of three, the O’s closed the gap between themselves and the Yankees at the top of the American League East to a measly two games. In the Wild Card race, the O’s are two games back of Oakland (who may never lose again) for the top spot, but are 1.5 games up on Tampa for the second spot.
With Tampa and New York about to start a three-game set of their own before the Yanks come to Baltimore for four next weekend, the O’s need to take full advantage of the three games they are about to play against the basement-dwelling Toronto Blue Jays.
Toronto is still a tough team at home, where they have a 33-32 record in 2012, but the O’s need to take at least two of three to avoid putting themselves firmly behind the eight ball here at the start of September.
It was a great, hard-fought, exciting series in New York, and the Birds came out on top. Let’s hope they can do the same north of the border.
Joe Saunders takes on J.A. Happ on Labor Day at 1:07 PM.
That’s right – it’s Labor Day and the Birds are within a stone’s throw of the division lead.
This is Birdland.