Will the next 2 weeks decide the Orioles fate?
Can you believe it?
Here we are, late August, and we’re talking about the Baltimore Orioles in the playoff hunt. Baseball is fun again for O’s fans. The Orioles have been able to maintain a spot in the hunt all season long, despite every statistical category and theory telling us that they should have been eliminated weeks ago. The Birds have found new ways to win all season, despite having a -43 run differential and leading the league in errors (94). But we know all of these stats, and so does Buck and the O’s, and it doesn’t stop them from staying in the hunt. This time last year, the Birds would of migrated South already.
This year is different.
So the Orioles are in Arlington, TX for a huge series against the Rangers. The Rangers come home after going 3-4 in the seven game road trip against the Yankees and the Blue Jays. Texas currently holds a 5 game lead over Oakland in the AL West. The Rangers have been struggling with their pitching staff as of late. The move to pick up Ryan Dempster has not seemed to have paid off. He missed his last start in Toronto because of losing his passport. Dempster is 1-3 with a 7.06 ERA in his last five starts, prior to last night. However, Dempster lead the Rangers past Baltimore. He kicked off the series last night coming off of 6-days rest. Going 8 innings, only giving up 4 hits and 1 run scored by McLouth by an infield single by Adam Jones. The Rangers start the series with a 5-1 win.
Tonight’s matchup is expected to be Feldman (6-8) against Chris Tillman (5-2). Tillman has become quite a surprise as of late. His first few starts he was roughed up, but Tillman has a 3.65 ERA and has kept hitters to a .244 AVG. The final probable start is Holland (7-6) against former Ranger , Tommy Hunter (4-7).
The Orioles are in Texas for 3 games, then head home to take on the White Sox and the Blue Jays, then head to New York for a critical series against the Yankees. Three of the four series are against division leading teams. For every team in the Wild Card hunt, every game and series becomes important, but for the Orioles to be taken seriously the last few weeks of the season, they’re going to have to win more than .500 of these games the next two weeks.
If the Orioles keep winning, I could see it impacting more than just the standings. If they play well, the Orioles could call up Dylan Bundy in September, once the roster increases. He could get the same treatment as David Price did when he was first called up in Tampa.
As a fan, and as a blogger, it has been quite a season following the Orioles. They have done things that no one expected, but the time is now for the Orioles to play their best ball. In my opinion, the Orioles have gotten past the jokes, and are going to have an impact on how the regular season comes to an end and how the Wild Card (and potentially the AL East) is decided. The O’s have 23 remaining games against division leaders or teams in the Wild Card hunt (Rangers, Yankees, Rays and Athletics).
How important do you think these next few series are for the Orioles? Do you think the next two weeks decide the O’s fate?