And now…the games matter.

The Orioles begin the 2010 season in Tampa to face the Rays in a three game series.  For the first time in several seasons, the Orioles begin a season on the road. And unlike college football, where you can pad the early schedule with some easy opponents, the Orioles get a team that may be on the verge of greatness. The Rays are one season removed from a World Series appearance, but are coming off a season where they fell short of expectations.

For the Orioles this is a season that is going to be based on “results.” If that is the case, they could not have gotten a more brutal opening stretch of games. Six games each with the Rays, Red Sox, Yankees, and Mariners, with the Twins thrown in. For breathers, the Orioles get games with the Blue Jays and A’s. For a team that last year proved it could play with anyone but the elite squads, this can be looked at one of two ways. It can be an opportunity to prove that you can compete with the big boys in the American League, or it could prove to be more of the same that fans have witnessed for the last twelve seasons.

To start to achieve the upward progress the Oriole brass is counting on, the Orioles will are expected to throw Kevin Millwood, Jeremy Guthrie and Brian Matusz against the Rays lineup. If the Orioles are going to make any kind of upward move, pitching is going to be one of, if not the most important keys. They are scheduled to face James Shields, Matt Garza and Jeff Niemann. Guthrie and Millwood are both coming off disappointing spring performances, so the O’s are hoping for better results when the games begin. I’m not sure you can read a lot into the first three games of the season, but with expectations raised, fans are hoping that better days are ahead for the Orioles.