Few teams shared as exciting a season series as the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees did in 2012.
Not only did they spend the majority of the season neck and neck atop the American League East, but they also proved to be two of the more complete teams in baseball.
That...and they hit a hell of a lot of home runs.
Nearly every one of their 18 games (both teams won nine times) was filled with drama, including two extra-inning affairs, four games decided by one-run, and another three decided by three runs.
Let's take a look back at the highlights from the season series, just hours ahead of their playoff series.
The first meeting between the two squads came in the fourth game of the season.
Interestingly enough, the O's had gotten off to a 3-0 start, sweeping the lowly Minnesota Twins, outscoring them 15-5. The Yankees, on the other hand, were looking for their first victory after being on the receiving end of the brooms in a three-game set against Tampa Bay.
The records didn't mean much, as the Yankees powered past the O's 6-2 behind a 4-for-4 performance from team captain Derek Jeter. The elder statesman doubled, scored a run and drove one in, and turned two double plays en route to the win.
Jeter went on to have a brilliant season, highlighted by an amazing performance against the Orioles. In 18 games he hit .403 with six extra-base hits and 11 RBI.
All these years later and Jeter is still an Oriole-killer.
The first of the Orioles' 18 extra-inning games, and one of just two they were on the losing end of.
After a flurry of excitement in the fourth, fifth and sixth, neither team scored again until Raul Ibanez lined a ground-rule double to deep right-center in the top of the 12th, scoring Robinson Cano and giving the Yankees a 5-4 lead.
Mariano Rivera came on in the bottom of the inning, got two strikeouts and a weak pop-fly, and walked off with career save number 604.
And just like that, the two squads were in a dead-heat.
After jumping out to a 3-0 start, the O's were brought back to reality with a three-game sweep at the hands of Joe Girardi's bunch, who proved their 0-3 start would be a footnote of their 2012 campaign.
For the second consecutive day, the Yankees were triumphant in extra-innings, this time getting a clutch, two-run homer from Nick Swisher in the top of the 10th-inning. It was Swisher's only hit of the day.
In the bottom half of the inning, Rivera once again came on to close things out. He'd pick up his second save of the season, but no one knew he'd scoop up only three more before suffering a season-ending injury while shagging balls in the outfield before a game later that month.
After this defeat, the Orioles reeled off 16 consecutive extra-inning victories.
After their first series the O's and Yankees went their separate ways only to rendezvous 19 days later in a battle for first place.
In a pitching duel that would foreshadow the career-years that both starters would have, Hiroki Kuroda and Jason Hammel give up a combined three runs in the second-inning...and nothing else.
Kuroda goes seven-innings, surrendering just four hits and picks up his second victory.
Hammel takes the hard-luck loss, his first of the year, after scattering five hits over six innings.
Only one day later, slugger Chris Davis led an offensive onslaught that would firmly establish the Orioles as a legitimate contender and keep them atop the AL East as the season entered it's second month.
The former Ranger had a career-day, going 3-for-4 with a double and a solo homer. He also scored three runs and raised his average to .333. The homer was one of three he would slug against New York in 2012 en route to setting career-highs in homers (33) and RBI (85).
Lost in the box score are strong performances by Nick Johnson (???), who went 2-for-4 with three RBI, and Brian Matusz (6.1 IP, 1 ER, 4 K), who picked up his first victory of the season.
Baltimore would go on to win four of the next five games against New York.
After playing each other eight times in the first 36 games, the O's and Yankees wouldn't meet again until late July.
By then, New York had jumped out to a sizable lead over Baltimore, who was still trying hard to impress critics despite series wins against Washington, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Atlanta.
In only his fifth big-league start, journeyman rookie Miguel Gonzalez struck out eight Yankees and scattered four runs over six-innings en route to his third victory.
The bullpen held a one-run lead (of course they did) and moved the Orioles to within 6.5 games of New York. Jim Johnson picked up his 31st save for Baltimore.
Newly minted lead-off man Nick Markakis (3-for-4, 2 RBI) and veteran Wilson Betemit (2-for-4, solo HR) led the way on offense, while J.J. Hardy singled home Markakis in the top of the seventh for the game-winning run.
The Yankees hung five runs on Baltimore starter Chris Tillman in the first inning of this July 31st contest. Normally that would have meant game over.
Not this year.
The O's bounced back and hung a seven-spot on Ivan Nova in the top of the second-inning, highlighted by Chris Davis' two-out grand slam.
The Yankees wouldn't score again, while Baltimore would hang four more on New York's bullpen to make the final score 11-5.
The Yankees bounced back in dramatic fashion the next day, scoring two in the first, two in the second and seven in the third.
No fancy comebacks this time.
Their 12-3 victory was cemented by a Robinson Cano grand slam and Curtis Granderson's 29th homer of the season.
In all, New York pounded out 15 hits, including three by Jayson Nix and Derek Jeter, and two a piece by Granderson, Nick Swisher and Cano.
Orioles' starter Zach Britton was tagged for seven earned runs in 2.2 innings.
Miguel Gonzalez got another shot at the Yankees just a month after surprising New York with a strong outing on the road.
Taking the ball at Yankee Stadium for the second time, Gonzalez bested his previous effort by tossing seven shutout innings, scattering four hits and racking up nine strikeouts. He whiffed Oriole-killer Nick Swisher three times.
On offense the O's were bolstered by Mark Reynolds, in the midst of a hot streak in the middle of a terrible campaign. Reynolds blasted a two-run shot off Hiroki Kuroda in the second-inning and a solo shot off Derek Lowe in the ninth.
The victory brought the O's to within two games of the Yankees.
For the season, Gonzalez went 6-2 against the AL East with a 51:19 K:BB ratio.
Less than 48 hours after slugging two homers off of New York pitches, Mark Reynolds is at it again.
Pacing the Orioles 8-3 win, Reynolds slugs two long-balls, including a three-run shot off Phil Hughes in the sixth that put the O's ahead for good.
Randy Wolf, released earlier in the season by Milwaukee, picks up the victory for Baltimore with 3.1 strong innings in relief.
The O's deficit is back to two games.
The two squads took three games off before resuming their season series with a four-game set that would be their last of the year.
The last time Mark Reynolds faced the Yankees he slugged two homers. Two nights before that performance he also slugged two homers.
So of course, for the third time against the Yankees in 2012, Reynolds goes deep twice. His eighth-inning two-run shot put the O's ahead 9-6 and the bullpen would put the clamps on New York in the ninth.
The O's escape the first game of the series with a 10-6 victory and Reynolds seals his spot in Orioles lore.
For the season, against the Yankees, Reynolds hit .294/.410/.804 with seven homers, 14 RBI and 12 runs.
The second-to-last game of the season between these two squads was important for multiple reasons.
For starters, the O's victory tied them atop the American League East and kept the heat on the Yankees.
More important, however, was the C.C. Sabathia pitch that drilled O's leadoff hitter Nick Markakis on the thumb, effectively ending his season.
Markakis had thrived in the leadoff spot and had given the O's a sense of identity. At the time, his injury was seen by many as the straw that would break the camel's back.
With sole possession of first place on the line, the O's lost 13-3 the next day and while many thought that was the end for them, they rebounded to earn their first playoff berth since 1997.