With so many pundits and fans noting about the declining level of animosity that exists between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, the MLB could use a new heated rivalry in the American League East. Since the Yanks (51-26) currently own the best record in baseball, their inclusion in such a dynamic is essentially mandatory. The Baltimore Orioles (49-25) are gunning for their spot, though.

Hence, the birds are a perfect foil to duel the men in pinstripes for the foreseeable future. Fans have seen the embers of a potentially fiery feud during this week's series between the two clubs. Baltimore pitchers drilled Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres in the hand on Tuesday, inciting strong and “pissed” reactions from New York.

On Wednesday, both Gunnar Henderson and Colton Cowser were hit by pitches. They maintained their composure, as did the Orioles as a whole, and there was no retaliation. A wild, 7-6 win in extra innings probably helped compensate for the pain and bruising a bit.

The O's continued to get the best of the Yankees in Thursday's rubber match, lighting up AL Cy Young and Rookie of the Year candidate Luis Gil for seven runs on their way to a 17-5 trouncing. Henderson and fellow franchise pillar Adley Rutschman each enjoyed 3-hit outings and Ryan Mountcastle, Ryan O'Hearn and Anthony Santander combined for 11 RBIs.

An erratic Gil hit Jordan Westburg with the bases loaded in the second inning. Baltimore carried on about its business and is now just a half-game out of first place in the standings. Before the young and supremely talented squad clinched the series, skipper Brandon Hyde addressed the hit-by-pitch incidents that have dominated headlines throughout the last three days.

Orioles' Brandon Hyde shares his perspective

 Baltimore Orioles shortstop Gunnar Henderson (2) hits a double in the first inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

“I think getting hit is, unfortunately, a terrible part of the game, and I don’t think anybody wants to see anybody get hit,” the 2023 AL Manager of the Year said, per Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. “I don’t want to see their guys get hit, I don’t want to see my guys get hit. When something like that happens, because it’s New York, it’s a little bit bigger of a deal. You just don’t want to see that happen.”

Considering that the Yankees have hit more batters than any team in the American League, their response to getting beamed was a tad surprising. Obviously, people are going to be on edge when the top player in the sport today gets beamed in the hand, days after fellow superstar Mookie Betts suffered a serious injury under similar circumstances. Regrettably, however, these freak occurrences are part of the game.

Hurlers are going to pitch power hitters inside– especially a record-breaking slugger like Aaron Judge. Control and safety are vitally important, but disaster can also inadvertently strike when athletes have the most innocuous of intentions. Luckily, Judge is doing well and actually belted his MLB-leading 27th home run in defeat.

In the end, there were no bench-clearing brawls in this divisional clash. It is even difficult to discern if there will be lingering tension when the Orioles host the Yankees for a three-game set in July. Brandon Hyde's group is not concerning itself with any accidental conflict longer than necessary.

Baltimore has bigger priorities, namely reaching its first World Series in 41 years. That foremost objective probably cannot be achieved without toppling New York, which the O's just did twice in Yankee Stadium over the past 24 hours.