After doing what Buck’s boys have on the regular of late, “Just. Win. Series.“, the Baltimore Orioles open a pretty significant three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays Friday night. And before you give me the “it’s only June” bit with my significant comment, please just back away from your keyboard and let me explain my rational.
This legit playoff team is officially two months into the season with 60 games under their belt (34-26). So unless my fuzzy math skills from Towson University has failed me once again, that’s 37% of the season that’s as over as Alex (‘Roid) Rodriguez’s 2013 season.
Add in the fact that being eight games over .500 in the AL this year is middle of the pack, you can maybe see why I think the next week/month of games could be crucial.
If the playoffs did start today (I know they don’t, but work with me here), the O’s would be out of the mix. Hell, in their own division they trail both the Boston Red Sox (more on them in a minute), the New York Yankees and only sit a game and half in front of the Rays. Add in teams like the gritty Oakland A’s and Cleveland Indians (who have struggled of late) and you can see why as good as the O’s have been its not enough to move up in the standings.
And although what the O’s have done is what I’ve been preaching since early last year (just win series), a 15-13 month of May really took the shine off a sparkling 16-11 April. They have won 3 of the first 5 in June, but the teams up the way on I-95 just won’t lose.
One of those teams with their annoying fan-base will be invading Camden Yards starting next Thursday night for a monster four-game series. Only this time I’m extremely confident the Yards will be full of orange and there will be a lot less of those dumb, pink Red Sox hats in the mix. (Side note, is it just me or is everyone of those hats always brand new and accompanied with a 2004 Jason Varitek T-shirt they got as a give away?) Anyway, I digress.
And now that the Houston Astros are in the rear view mirror, there are no cupcakes on the schedule for the month of June.
If you think just because the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are under achieving worse than Chris Bosh is for the Miami Heat (that’s the NBA), they can’t be slept on. Especially if the rotation stays the same, “Sweaty” Freddy Garcia will oppose Jared Weaver on Monday night. Who do you got in that one?
And then after that monster four-game showdown with the Bo Sox, the O’s travel to the ‘Motor City’ to take on that juggernaut Detroit Tigers lineup before heading back across the border to Toronto where last time we saw them Jim Johnson was melting down like Papa Grande.
The Birds then close June at the Yards hosting the Indians and former Oriole Mark “The Sheriff” Reynolds before the Yankees come south to Camden Yards for what could be another monster June series. Add in that the Sunday game was “flexed” to ESPN’s prime time slot and you can see why many people around here think it’s going to be a playoff-like atmosphere…in June.
Listen, I’m as happy as crab when a Purdue chicken hauler over-turns on the Bay Bridge with where the clubs stand today. I actually think this team is much better/deeper than last year’s playoff squad. Give them Chen instead of Sweaty Freddy and I think the rotation is good enough backed by this offense of not only making the post-season, but going on a deep run.
And that’s coming from a guy who had the Rays wining the AL East and said that no other team from the division would be a Wild Card. But now my eye balls are telling me something different after 60 games of baseball.
All this Orangekoolaid drinker is pointing out is that the expectations of this team are different now. No more “lucky little Orioles” rhetoric. This team is legit and can play with anyone in the AL. That is why I am saying that this month of June COULD define where they sit come late September and beyond.
It’s time to make your move, Buck and company.