Despite what some of the more alarmist factions of Orioles fandom may have been saying, there has not been a “must win” game or series yet this year. There have been games and series that would have greatly benefited the team if they had won (many of which they have) but nothing has risen to the level of “must win,” yet.
The next 15 games are going greatly determine the Baltimore Orioles’ playoff chances. Starting tonight the Orioles begin a string of games against the Rays, Athletics, Red Sox, Yankees, and Indians. As of today all of these teams hold sway on the Orioles playoff hopes in a very significant way. Of course the Orioles are directly chasing the Rays, A’s, and Sox for playoff spots; but the Indians and, to a slightly lesser extent, Yankees are right behind the Orioles fighting for that last spot.
If the Orioles can go 10-5 over the next 15, that is essentially winning each three game series, that puts the at 77-61 on September 4 which is almost exactly what the team’s record was on that date last year.
The Orioles may be catching some of these teams at the right time. Despite the Orioles’ lackluster results over the last week, the team did go 9-5 on their trip through the weaker teams of the NL, most of which took place on the road. Meanwhile Boston has only won three of its last 10 games and Tampa has sported a 4-6 record. The Rays had gotten destroyed by the NL before winning back-to-back series against the Mariners and the Blue Jays, even then only barely.
The run to the playoffs starts tonight.
Last night’s display during the Boston-New York game was just ridiculous. It was ridiculous for the following reasons:
1) Ryan Dempster should have been thrown out of the game right then and there. The beaning was so clearly intentional and telegraphed he could not have been more clear about if he tweeted his intentions: “Dude, gonna bean A-Rod. LOL #Redsox #Yankees #douchebag”
2) Boston fans were so wrapped up in booing A-Rod they didn’t seem to notice the game, that they lost, mostly thanks to A-Rod.
Which brings me to my next point:
3) If you go through the nonsense of beaning A-Rod, you better win the game. Moreover, you certainly cannot let A-Rod be the one that beats you. The Red Sox now look like fools, utter fools. They went out of their way to try and antagonize and humiliate a player for some reason. I mean it can’t be about steroids because they have their own steroid case in David Ortiz, or do we just not talk about that? They went out of their way to humiliate a rival team and then got beat badly, in the middle of a bit of a team slump. They have yet to string together more than back-to-back wins this month and they have only won 16 of their last 30 games. This was a series that could have put the Yankees away. This was a series where you could have buried the team too far back. Instead the Red Sox gave them some daylight. All in the name of humiliating A-Rod.
Chris Davis hit his 45th homer last night, August 18. Brady Anderson hit his 45th home run on September 13. Roger Maris hit his 45th homer on August 13.
In the first half the Orioles starters pitched to a 4.79 ERA. Since the All Star Break Orioles starters have pitched to a 3.95 ERA. Unfortunately the offense has cooled off as the pitching has stepped up. The starters are going a bit longer into games as well. In the first half the starters IP : reliever IP ratio was 1.7 since the break it is now a 2:1 ratio.
The way I figure things the Orioles need to be fewer than 4.5 back by September 1 to be “in the hunt,” for the AL East title. As it stands right now the Orioles are exactly 4.5 games back of the Red Sox with three games against the Sox coming up on the horizon. Those games are looming large for both teams.