The Baltimore Orioles, somewhat miraculously, still find themselves in contention for a Wild Card spot after yesterday’s 3-1 win over the Chicago White Sox at Camden Yards.
The O’s are 3 games back of the Tampa Bay Rays for that oh-so-coveted second WC birth, despite going 4-6 in their last 10 games and losing 4 of their last 5 series overall. They do sit behind the Yankees and tied with the Indians in the standings, but if the Birds get hot, they have a real shot at making the playoffs for the second straight year. Unfortunately for Baltimore, the schedule only gets tougher after the White Sox leave town.
After Chicago, the last out-of-division series Baltimore will play all season, the detested Yankees will head into Baltimore for a 3 game set, which could potentially have an enormous impact on both team’s postseason hopes. If the O’s do poorly in that series, their hopes could be dashed for good. However, assuming that doesn’t happen, the team would take on the last-place Toronto Blue Jays with a chance to make up some ground. Then come first-place Boston and Tampa Bay once again, which, despite being tough games to play, give the O’s a fighting chance to control their own destiny. The ends with two series against Toronto and Boston, which may or may not mean the difference between six months off and a chance at a championship.
Teams don’t get a break when they play in the AL East. You know heading into the season that it is going to be a dogfight until the very end, and this year has proven to be no exception. With the return of Jason Hammel to the rotation and Steve Johnson to the bullpen, as well as the addition of Michael Morse to the lineup, the Orioles have a shot as long as they play the way they did early on in the season.They have been relying on the home run a little too much as of late, even though they are the league-leaders in that category. They could also use some more consistent starting pitching, which has been laboring seemingly since the All-Star break.
However, this team has the talent and the coaching to compete, and there’s no telling when the switch will flip and they’ll play lights-out baseball once again. The road to the playoffs is always a rocky one, but sometimes the rocky roads are the ones that lead to paradise, and Baltimore is praying the one they’re traveling on does exactly that.