Still In It…

Last week, I pondered that if the Orioles came home from their nine-game road trip with a losing record, their playoff hopes might be dashed.

However, I’ve never been a person to make wildly accurate predictions when it comes to sports and was wrong again about the Orioles.

Thanks to the Tamp Bay Rays falling into a slump despite their great pitching, they have allowed the Orioles, the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians to remain in the rearview mirror when it comes to the wild card hunt. The Rays are only 3-7 in their last ten games.

The Orioles, as of this morning, are amazingly only three games out of the final wild card spot and they did what was needed against the Chicago White Sox.

They beat the White Sox, who are in town for a four-game set, on Thursday night, 3-1. Although not very many eyes were on the Birds by virtue of the Ravens playing at the same in Denver against the Broncos to start off the NFL season, Miguel Gonzalez pitched very well and Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy and Brian Roberts each homered.

I was left impressed by Gonzalez, as he has had a rough time of things as of late on the mound. He lasted seven innings, struck out six and gave up a run. He seemed very much in control and resembled the pitcher that was so cool under pressure last year.

They’ll need that guy to return often before the season runs out.

Also, last night, Adam Jones reached the 30-homer, 100-RBI plateau. We all can say what we want about his on-base percentage, strikeouts, walks, etc.; however, the man is a productive and one heck of a baseball player. I do wish that Jones can somehow work on his plate discipline, but right now, he is in his prime and gets the job done.

Whether that will be the case five years from now as he’s older and perhaps starts to slip – who knows.

Back to the Orioles: They are 74-65 and they trail the Tampa Bay Rays by three games for the final wild card spot, tied with Cleveland Indians.

The Yankees are ½ a game ahead of the Orioles.

We all know what the Orioles have to do: win. They have to take as many games as possible from Chicago, and then same against a New York team in another four-game set that seem to never have the ability to fade.

It’s going to be interesting to see how everything winds up at the end of September. I think the Orioles can survive, but they have to do all the little things right – getting runners on base home, pitching and a tighter bullpen – to earn victories.