Unlikely? Yes. Improbable? Yes. But impossible? No, not quite. The Orioles aren’t mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, and their recent spark has drawn me back in.
I, like many others, had diverted my attention over to football season as the O’s seemed to blow their season losing 16 of 20 games during the most important stretch of their season. I stopped watching MASN on a nightly-basis, and it seemed like, for the last week, I hadn’t been missing much. As we all looked forward to the Ravens opening weekend at Denver, Chris Davis got plunked, Buck got tossed and a fresh batch of Orioles magic seemed to be cooking in Birdland. And here we are, winners of six of our last seven, sitting 5.5 games back of the second AL Wild Card seed. The Rangers swept the Birds in Texas just last month, sitting in the Wild Card driver’s seat, and headed towards the AL West lead.
5.5 games back, 18 to play. Can it be done? Doubtful, but here’s what’s going to have to happen if we don’t want the 2015 party to stop.
Since adding the second wild card in 2012, 85 wins seems to be the consensus-estimate for playoff bound teams. The O’s currently sit at (71-73), so they’d have to go (14-4) to get to the 85-win threshold. Texas, on the other hand, is already at (76-67). This is a lofty goal, but the “toughest remaining schedule in the MLB,” that haunted the Orioles for the past month and a half, may be on their side.
The O’s wrap up their 6-game homestand on Wednesday following two more matchups against Boston (last place in the AL East). They then head to Tampa Bay to face the Rays, who are 3-7 their last 10 games, and have minimal playoff aspirations as well. The four-games at TB are followed by three at the free-falling Washington Nationals. The O’s then travel to Boston for three to wrap up the roadtrip.
So that’s 12 of the remaining 19-games that are winnable. Pitching matchups aside, these are teams the Orioles can beat by playing the same kind of baseball that they are playing right now. A good showing in these 12-games, the Orioles may have hope in the standings heading into a 7-game home stand to wrap up the regular season.
Realistically, a good road trip may be a far-fetched idea for one of the worst road teams in all of Major League Baseball this season. (29-45) away from OPACY isn’t going to get it done. The Birds will have to finish with an away record around (36-48) if they want to have a chance.
Fortunately, the Orioles face the toughest remaining part of their schedule at home from September 28th-October 4th against division-leading Toronto (without Troy Tulowitzki) and wild card-leading New York. The O’s will certainly have to earn it, but #WhyNotUs?
Not only will the O’s have to post an unbelievable record, but they’ll most likely need help from the other AL wild card contenders. There are other unproven ball clubs vying for that last seed, which may work in Baltimore’s favor. Texas, Houston, Minnesota, Cleveland and the LA Angels all are in uncharted territory for their current roster, and could fail under the immense pressure that is Fall baseball. Texas and Houston play eachother 7 more times this season. O’s fans should hope for one of those teams to go (7-0) and bury the other. The same goes for Cleveland and Minnesota. Have to hope one team puts the other away.
The pitching must remain consistent if the Orioles want to stay in this thing. They dug themselves a deep-hole to climb out of, but if they continue to hit the long ball and get a little help from other teams throughout the league, maybe, just maybe there’s still a shot.
Here’s to 85 in the #WinColumn, and 12 more cold one’s after that!