And while Orioles manager Buck Showalter has said he doesn't start paying attention to the standings until August, you can bet the rest of baseball has kept a watchful eye on a spirited Baltimore club -- in sole possession of second place -- which continues to hang around in the playoff race with less than two months to go.
"The difference between a lot of baseball [teams] is who makes great plays in tough situations," reliever Luis Ayala said of an Orioles' club (57-51) that moved within a game of the American League Wild Card and is 6 1/2 games behind the AL East-leading Yankees. "We are trying our best."
And they're getting quite the payoff, finishing a six-road trip 4-2 with divisional series wins over New York and Tampa Bay. The Orioles have 11 consecutive extra-inning wins, extending their own franchise record, and according to Elias, own the second-longest single-season win streak in extra-innings for any Major League team over the last 27 seasons.
"As long as you can hang around, anything can happen," Teagarden said. "You get a two-out double out of your nine-hole hitter, you know you can win games. You've got to have everyone contribute and kind of survive the game. Don't let it slip away and bear down as the innings keep building up."
Teagarden ensured Gonzalez's effort -- and the Orioles' stellar bullpen performance -- wouldn't go for naught, connecting for another game-winning hit. After collecting his first career walkoff homer in his first game of the season on July 14, Teagarden sent Rays reliever Joel Peralta's pitch off the left field wall, scoring Mark Reynolds -- who worked a leadoff walk -- for the game's deciding run.
"We were talking in the dugout that we had the right man in the right place," Showalter said of Teagarden, who was 2-for-27 prior to his 10th-inning at bat. "He's got some thump. If you look back at his power numbers wherever he's been, he's been able to drive the ball. He did a great job with Miguel, too."
Gonzalez turned in the first scoreless start of his career, firing seven innings to keep pace with the efforts of Rays' ace David Price. Gonzalez's effort, coupled with Wei-Yin Chen's gem Saturday night, gave the Orioles their first back-to-back scoreless starts since June 16 and 17.
Gonzalez needed just 78 pitches to get through the first five innings, allowing a one-out double to B.J. Upton in the first inning and working around a pair of one-out walks in the fifth. The 28-year-old didn't allow another hit until Pena's right-field single to start the seventh, prompting immediate bullpen activity for the Orioles. After a quick mound visit from pitching coach Rick Adair, Gonzalez got a pair of fly balls from Ryan Roberts and Jose Lobtaon and catcher Teagarden threw out Pena trying to steal second to end the inning.
"I like someone that is out there [opposing me] and he's aggressive, so I'm going to be aggressive too," Gonzalez said of going against Price, who tossed eight scoreless innings in the no-decision. "I'm not going to give up. I'm going to keep working and keep getting better."
Gonzalez -- a late-spring signing who has worked his way up from the Minor Leagues -- got retribution against a team that hit him for seven earned runs over 2 2/3 innings in a July 25 outing in which the righty was also battling illness. Coming off a solid effort in New York, Gonzalez struck out four in Sunday's 103-pitch start, exiting in favor of reliever Darren O'Day, who tossed a perfect eighth.
"If I was the Orioles, I'd be really upset giving up two runs in three games and only winning two," Rays manager Joe Maddon said after watching Baltimore out-pitch a Rays' staff that is one of the best in baseball, ending the series with 20 scoreless innings.
Following Gonzalez's outing, Darren O'Day pitched a perfect eighth and Ayala pitched out of trouble in the ninth, after lefty Troy Patton put Matt Joyce on with an infield single. Pinch-hitter Sean Rodriguez's sacrifice bunt moved Joyce to second and Ayala made a heads-up play on Jeff Keppinger's grounder to cut down the lead runner. After fielding the ball cleanly, Ayala turned and caught Joyce halfway to third, firing the ball to Omar Quintanilla, who started a rundown for the second out. Ayala intentionally walked Carlos Pena and struck out Ryan Roberts on three pitches to send the game into extras.
"We've had some quality starts, and you'll notice when we're getting these, our bullpen seems a little sharper," Showalter said. "[Ayala has] had three days off. He had a little extra life on the fastball. All the guys. You see Petey [Strop] last night where his velocity jumped, too. If we can keep getting some depth out of our starters, we're going to be able to keep the bullpen intact."