Orioles win their 82nd game and salvage series in Oakland…

Today, the Baltimore Orioles defeated the Oakland Athletics, 9-5, and clinched their first winning season since 1997.

After losing the first two games of the weekend series, the Orioles rebounded on Sunday as Matt Wieters hit two homers, Endy Chavez plated in two runs and Chris Davis’s eighth-inning homer put the game away late.

Baltimore’s J.J. Hardy, Mark Reynolds and Robert Andino also drove in runs.

According to Roch Kubtako of MASN Sports, the Orioles had lost 16 out of 18 games on the road in Oakland – an astounding piece of information. That should tell you how huge Sunday’s win for them was on the left coast.

Randy Wolf – in a spot start – pitched four strong innings, giving up two runs; meanwhile, Brian Matusz earned the win as pitched two clutch relief innings. Jim Johnson earned his 43rd save, coming in for an ineffective Pedro Strop.

Oakland took an early 2-0 lead; however, the Baltimore offense came through for the pitchers on the mound.

With their win, the Orioles (82-64) still trail the New York Yankees by a game in the American League; meanwhile, they hold a 2 ½ game lead over the Los Angeles Angels for the final wild card spot.

They could not afford another loss in Oakland, and they head onto Seattle for yet another important series. Afterwards, they head back east to face the Boston Red Sox on the road to finish out the road trip.

Baltimore had rebounded from a close loss on Friday and a miserable one on Saturday due to one bad inning. Although they didn’t look great overall this weekend (blowing scoring opportunities, loading the bases, confounding pitching at times), the Orioles are still in a fairly strong position and still control their destiny. I’ve got a feeling they still make the playoffs; however, they will probably face Oakland out west in the wild card game.

At this point, it may be safe to say that the Oakland Athletics – who like the Orioles were expected to be a miserable team to watch this season – will take the first wild card spot in the American League.

The statement of, “you can’t predict baseball,” certainly applies when everyone tried to figure out how Oakland and Baltimore would do in 2012.

There are sixteen games left for the Birds and what happens next is anyone’s guess.