In the excruciatingly torturous final days of spring training, all eyes are looking with excitement to March 31 at Camden Yards, where the Orioles will face the defending World Series Champion Boston Red Sox in an AL East Opening Day showdown.
While it is always exciting to look to Opening Day, it is important to not fall victim to tunnel vision, and notice the rest of the schedule in the early weeks of the Major League season.
After the Orioles’ home opener, they will get a day off, followed by two night games against the Red Sox. Then, the Orioles will start a six-day road trip to Detroit and New York (Yankees). Upon the start of their road trip, the Orioles will play in five straight day games (1 P.M. start times).
The Orioles will receive one day off before starting a six-game homestand against the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays, before embarking on a seven-game road trip against Boston and Toronto.
The month of April will then conclude with with a five-game homestand against the Kansas City Royals and the Pittsburgh Pirates.
At a glance, the Orioles have a pretty tough schedule to start the year, and a lot of that has to do with Baltimore being in such a tough division. This is important because of the implications the first month can at times carry for teams.
The first month of the year often sets the tone for how the whole year will go, despite constant arguments like “it’s still early” and “these games don’t matter as much as games in August and September.” It will be important for the Orioles to get off on the right foot in a month that sees them play every team within their division, some more than once. A .500 record for the month would be a victory this early in the season against such a tough crop of opponents, as it would buy them additional time to make necessary adjustments moving forward. Anything less isn’t insurmountable, especially considering a noticeably easier schedule in May (including six games against the Houston Astros), but preventing things from unraveling early should be the goal.
Since Buck Showalter took over as manager, the Orioles have truly become a team that takes it one game at a time, which is always important in preventing long losing streaks that can be crippling. This mentality is especially important early on because the last thing a manager wants to see is his players pressing in May.
While the Orioles have continuously held their own against the Red Sox, Yankees and Blue Jays, one team that has given them problems is the Rays. In 2013, the Orioles went 6-13 against Tampa Bay, a number that certainly may have costed them a Wild Card berth into the playoffs. That series (April 14-16) may prove to be highly significant for the Orioles come September, and should not be overlooked because of the early point of the season.Divisional matchups hold plenty of importance, no matter the month, and it will be imperative that the Orioles hold their own early on.
A tough schedule, no doubt, for the Orioles to start the year. This first month could be viewed as a relentless gauntlet hellbent on digging the Orioles an early grave, or it could be looked at as a great opportunity for them to assert themselves as a legitimate World Series contender against several of the AL’s very best teams and one of the NL’s best. All that can be done now on our part is speculation until the start of the season, which cannot come soon enough.