In a month that featured the All-Star Game and trade deadline, there are many things to focus on that took place. Most importantly however is a teams record, and for the Baltimore Orioles, it’s hard to find anybody who had a better one in July.
The Orioles finished the month of July with a 17-8 record, putting them in sole possession of first place in the AL East. Likewise, the O’s brought themselves into a tight race for playoff positioning in the AL with the Tigers and Athletics, and are fighting for the number two seed in the postseason.
For some players, the month of July could have went one forever, while for others, it could not end soon enough. The Orioles pitching staff shined in July, led by Wei-Yin Chen who went 4-0 in July with a 2.92 ERA. The starters are finally showing their true capability and the team succeeded because of it. In addition to the starters, the bullpen had a solid month overall, and gained a new member as the Orioles traded for Andrew Miller (beginning of August but still relates).
The lineup saw some up and down moments in July. Manny Machado flourished, hitting .333 with four home runs and 10 RBI’s. On the other hand, the middle of the Orioles’ lineup struggled in July. Chris Davis is still searching for his swing as he was only able to bat .167 in July. Even more worrisome for the Orioles was Nelson Cruz’s play in the month. Cruz only hit .211 in July but most notably is only batting .105 after the All-Star break with just one home run and one RBI.
Fortunately for the O’s, other players were able to pick up the slack and earn the team victories and if that can continue through August, the team will be in good shape. The Orioles have a winnable road through August, as they have already started the month with a two to one series win against the Mariners. The Birds make up a rained out game against the Nationals tomorrow before heading to Toronto.
The rest of the month of August gives the Orioles a real chance to distance themselves from their competition. The O’s face the Blue Jays and Yankees in two of their next three series, with the St. Louis Cardinals in between. Two series wins against these two teams would give the Orioles a larger lead than they currently hold (2.5 games). A bigger lead would be helpful in any situation, but especially to the Orioles as they can capitalize on their growing lead.
The Orioles remaining opponents in the month of August are the Indians, White Sox, Cubs, Rays and Twins. The O’s have a chance to put up a major number in the win column against these teams and get themselves in the position they want to be in for the final month of the season.
Based off of their play as of late, it’s hard to argue against the Orioles’ and what they are capable of doing and as stated, a somewhat favorable road throughout August should only help the O’s in their playoff hunt.