Orioles Back From the Brink
Orioles Back From the Brink
The rest of the schedule for the Baltimore Orioles (who visit the Texas Rangers in a big MLB game Wednesday Night) is still daunting. But, rising to the occasion against tough teams is how the O's came back from the brink of elimination to become a force once again in the American League Wildcard race.
After the games of July 29th, Baltimore had a record of 52-49. An early season success story had faded away, and it looked like the team was going to sink back to irrelevancy. They were slumping...they were only a few games over .500, and the upcoming schedule had a ton of games against quality teams. They probably weren't going to finish at .500 for the season. The playoffs? Forget about it!
Beat Oakland 6-1
Took two of three on the road from the New York Yankees
Took two of three on the road from the Tampa Bay Rays
Swept three games from Seattle
Split four games with Kansas City to tread water for a few days
Took two of three from hated divisional rival Boston
Took two of three on the road from the Detroit Tigers
Split the first two games of their current series down in Texas
That's 15-7 against a schedule that included four playoff contenders...which brings Baltimore back to 11 games over .500 heading to tonight's series finale in Arlington.
If you assume that it's going to take a record of about 90-72 to earn a Wildcard...then getting to 18 games over .500 is at least possible from +11, when it seemed borderline impossible from +3 a few weeks ago.
The most promising sign for the Orioles during this stretch is that their pitching has settled down. For most of the year, it was clear that they didn't have a rotation that could sustain success at their earlier level of performance. The offense was fine...the bullpen was fine...but the starting pitching turned too many games into shootouts. Here's a breakdown of what opponents have scored during the stretch we outlined above:
OPPONENT RUN TOTALS/FREQUENCY
0: 2 times
1: 5 times
2: 3 times
3: 2 times (that's 12 of 22 at 3 runs or less)
4: 1 time
5: 4 times
6 or more: 5 times
It's not a staff of Cy Young candidates by any means. But, more than half the game saw opponents (some hard hitting opponents) score three runs or less. That's how you win games. Baltimore IS a legitimate playoff contender if they can keep this going.
Of course, that's the big question. Look at the upcoming schedule:
Tonight: at Texas
Friday-Sunday: vs. Toronto (a break)
Monday-Thursday: vs. Chicago White Sox (division leader)
Friday-Sunday: at NY Yankees (division leader)
Monday-Wednesday: at Toronto
Thursday-Sunday: vs. NY Yankees (division leader)
Tuesday-Thursday: vs. Tampa Bay (Wildcard contender)
Friday-Sunday: at Oakland (Wildcard contender)
That's 18 of the next 24 games coming up against teams who are either destined for the playoffs or battling for a playoff spot. A schedule that had already been challenging is about to get tougher!
The Orioles have been a big moneymaker in recent days because they're so often a disrespected dog when they win. They don't return +110, or +130. Their past few wins on the road have returned +170!
Handicappers owe it to themselves to stay on top of this "re-developing" story. Baltimore didn't fall off the map. They may have just re-developed as a new storm after temporarily moving over some rough terrain. That being said...if they DO hit a wall...it's could cause a crash that leads to several losses in a short period of time against opponents who are in must-win situations themselves. The Orioles were linked to the Mets in many media articles when both were first half surprises. The Mets crashed. Are the O's next?
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