The Baltimore Orioles Have Started Scoreboard Watching

The Orioles care about how other teams are playing for the first time in a while.

You may or may not have noticed, but Orioles fans are not the only ones thinking about a run to the playoffs.  In the most recent series, where the Orioles swept the Texas Rangers, the MASN broadcasts have been showing more out-of-town scores.  Instead of merely displaying AL East scores, there have been six to eight games listed nightly.

Why would Birdland care about a White SoxRoyals snooze fest or a sloppy GuardiansDiamondbacks game?  Because two of those teams are fighting with the Orioles for a wild card spot, of course.  Entering Sunday’s slate, the Orioles are only one game out of the playoffs, one game ahead of Cleveland and two games in front of the South Siders.

Those AL East scores are certainly relevant as well, as the Red Sox are four games back, while the Rays and Blue Jays are currently holding two of the wild card slots, while the Seattle Mariners hold the third.  The Yankees are hardly in the same realm as the O’s since they have all but wrapped up the division with a 10.5 game lead in early August.

The Orioles still have very low playoff odds unlike their rivals, but it is remarkable that they have any to speak of after 100 games.  The Major League club has been competitive for much of the season, and they are still wining despite trading fan-favorites Trey Mancini and Jorge Lopez.

Being in the thick of the playoff race is extremely unfamiliar for the Orioles, since the team has finished well below .500 in each of the past four seasons.  As you have probably heard, the last time the Birds played meaningful baseball after the trade deadline was 2017 when Tim Beckham went on a tear, and the team still finished with a losing record.

If the Orioles manage to leapfrog into a playoff spot, they will be wandering into uncharted territory.  With two additional teams making the playoffs, Baltimore would be playing a short-three game series against either a fellow wild card recipient or the weakest division winner.  The competitive window last decade saw the Birds play in the do-or-die wild card game twice, with one win and one loss.  They will have to plan differently this time around by setting up three starting pitchers.

While the Orioles have the toughest schedule in MLB this season, they are taking advantage of weak opponents at the moment.  They have won five straight against the Rangers and Pirates, while most competitors have tougher matchups or haven’t taken advantage.  The Blue Jays and Rays were beating up on each other during the weak, while the Guardians have run into the Astros buzzsaw.  The Mariners, White Sox, and Red Sox are each struggling to win series against losing teams.

Whether the Orioles play baseball in October or not, this season has already been a resounding success.  We may be scoreboard watching the rest of the way, but playing competitive games is already a phenomenal achievement for the rebuild.