The magic number

The Orioles lost last night, meaning they have only 18 games remaining in their remarkable season to get to the next level. To me the magic number is 90 wins, meaning the Orioles need only go .500 the rest of the way to meet my playoff threshold.

The scenario as I see it.

This is, of course, barring any unforeseen nonsense or any team getting ridiculously hot/cold.

One wild card will come out of the west. At this point I think the Orioles west-coast cousin Athletics will make the playoffs in some capacity. The Angels are trying valiantly but I think their inconsistent play will sabotage them going forward during the remainder. The A’s are doing their damnedest to catch the Rangers, but they seem too powerful to be caught.

That leaves the Yankees, Orioles and Rays all vying for two playoff spots. At the start of play today the Birds and the Yanks are tied for first both three games ahead of the Rays. The Rays will take on the Yankees tonight and the A’s are, of course, hosting the Orioles – each will play two more games this series.

To get to 90 wins the Yankees and Orioles both need only to win nine games, the Rays need to win 12. All teams only have 18 games to play.  While it is very reasonable to imagine the Orioles and the Yankees going .500, the Rays getting to 90 might be a bit more troublesome for them.  The Rays have only had two stretches of 12-6, or better, play this year; Once at the beginning of the season from April 12 – May 29 (14-4) and again from August 7 – August 24 (14-4).  While their pitching is simply second-to-none their offense continues to struggle to score runs consistently.

The remaining schedules:

The Orioles: OAK 2, SEA 3, BOS 3, TOR 4, BOS 3, TB 3

The Yankees: TB 2, TOR 3, OAK 3, MIN 3, TOR 4, BOS 3

The Rays: NY 2, BOS 4, TOR 3, BOS 2, CHC 4, BAL 3

The Rays certainly have the toughest last week of the season with seven straight games against contending teams, one of them the team they are behind. They essentially have to win almost every series from here on, or at least play to an equivalent win- percentage, to crack that 90 win barrier. With those last seven games staring at them from the future they better get the wins the should/need to get against the low-hanging fruit of Boston and Toronto.

The Orioles really need to find a way to pull out a win or two against Oakland. The Orioles could handle losing the series in Oakland and not really skip a beat. Getting swept would be a bit more of an inconvenience with some possible long-term consequences. The Birds get a “soft” spot in September with 13 games against the Blue Jays, Mariners and Red Sox and seven of those games at home. If the magic number is truly 90 wins, then the Orioles have a more than excellent chance to reach that plateau with some room to spare.

Now, Tampa Bay could easily get white hot, the Orioles could get ice-cold and throw this whole theory out the window but I just don’t see that happening. And fi the Orioles can get to 90 wins it will take something phenomenally weird to keep them out of the playoffs.  The Orioles sit at 81 wins, with a three game lead over the second place Rays, If they can just win nine more games they will bring a remarkable close to one of the most improbable seasons in baseball history.

Just nine more wins.