The Baltimore Orioles have been on fire as of late. Taking on many of the league’s top teams has not stopped them in their pursuit of their first divisional crown since 1997.
They have the third best record in the league (behind only Oakland and the LA Ageles). They have the biggest divisional lead in the league. They have not lost a series since the July 18-20 series in Oakland.
Yet even with all the positives surrounding the Orioles in recent weeks, it seems some fans and media members still refuse to take the seriously.
Sure, they don’t have the star power of either L.A. team. They don’t have the history of the Red Sox or Yankees. And they don’t play in a particularly large city.
But they do have the best defense in the league. They do have the most power in their lineup. And they have arguably the best bullpen in baseball.
While some may argue that their starting pitching lacks an ace, or that the staff is pitching over their heads, it does not change the fact that the hardest part is over.
For the rest of the season, the Orioles will not have to play teams as potent as they have for the past several weeks.
They will wrap this month up against the Yankees (61-56), the Cleveland Indians (59-59), the Chicago White Sox (56-63), the Chicago Cubs (50-66), the Tampa Bay Rays (57-60) and the Minnesota Twins (52-64).
The combined record of the final August opponents for the Orioles is 335-368 (.477). Far weaker than playing teams such as the LA Angels, the Oakland A’s, the Seattle Mariners, the Toronto Blue Jays and the St. Louis Cardinals.
As the Yankees come to town for an important three game series, it must be known that pressure is not on the Orioles this time, but rather the New York Yankees.
The Yanks can ill afford to fall any further out of the race, or they will be stuck in Wild Card territory in their chase of a playoff berth.
If the Orioles take this series, and do as they should against their upcoming opponents, the AL East race could become a laugher entering the month of September.
The Yankees don’t have a particularly easy schedule to round off August (BAL, HOU, CHW, KC, DET, TOR), nor do the Toronto Blue Jays (SEA, CHW, MIL, TB, BOS, NYY). Certainly, not a gauntlet, but not easy for either team.
Though, it is entirely possible that things unravel for the Orioles in the coming weeks, it seems unlikely. They are taking it to the league’s top teams despite not having Matt Wieters in the lineup, and poor performances out of Chris Davis and Nelson Cruz in the middle of the batting order.
Suppose either one of them gets hot, the Orioles could take off even more than they have in recent weeks.
Suppose their starting pitching cools off, they have one heck of a safety net with their stud bullpen.
Barring injuries or suspensions, this crop of Orioles players is exactly the type of team that belongs in the playoffs and they seem destined to reach it for the second time in three years.
It is about time that the baseball world recognizes the Orioles as a serious contender because it does not appear as though they are going anywhere anytime soon.