Battle of the Birds Could Determine Orioles Playoff Chances
Orioles are on the outside looking in but close to a wild card spot
The Orioles are on the verge of a playoff spot, but the Blue Jays stand in their way. As Felix Bautista struck out Teoscar Hernandez for the final out on Tuesday in Toronto, Adley Rutschman celebrated the only way he knows how: with a hug and a smile. The come-from-behind win helped inch Baltimore within half a game of the third wild card spot belonging to the Blue Jays. All seemed to be good in the world and the pursuit of that oh-so-desired playoff berth was finally within reaching distance for the O’s.
This came only one week after the two teams provided similar scenes at Camden Yards, ending in a Rougned Odor highlight reel moment. In the 72 hours following Tuesday’s victory at Rogers Centre the Orioles have lost the series finale, dropped a make-up game in Chicago and out-slugged Boston to find themselves sitting a game and a half from the last wild card position now owned by Tampa Bay. This wild card race isn’t going to cool down anytime soon and there’s reason to believe this one matchup could prove to be Baltimore’s ticket in or out of the October sweepstakes.
Baltimore went 5-14 against Toronto allowing 153 runs over the course of 19 games in 2021. In a year that saw the Orioles lose 110 games and finish 48 GB in the AL East, their biggest deficit came against these same Blue Jays losing by 15 in a 22-7 defeat on Sept. 12. It’s no secret this team struggled big time last year. Neither pitching or offense was something to boast about, but it was clear they struggled even more so against this young and powerful Blue Jays lineup that features one of the best bats this generation has ever seen in Vladimir Guerrero Jr. At the time, the win for the Jays put them in a position for an AL wild card berth while setting the Orioles even further back on their road to rebuilding. It was a tale of two birds finding their way, flying in two completely different directions and carving their own paths. Now here we are a year removed from that scenario and in the midst of yet another postseason push, this time hosting both teams as candidates. How can you not be romantic about baseball, am I right?
Bird watching at its finest
The Orioles face Toronto another ten times before the end of the season, seven of which will be in Baltimore with a doubleheader scheduled on Sept. 5. The O’s have taken five out of the last six from the Blue Jays and continue to find production up and down the lineup, especially in Ryan Mountcastle who has taken a liking to playing the Blue Jays (to put it mildly). With a tight wild card race and whispers of October looming, keep an eye on this matchup as both teams try and etch their names into postseason history.