The Baltimore Orioles are reeling after coming off of three straight walkoff losses at the hands of the Arizona Diamondbacks to cap off a 4-4 west coast road trip. Baltimore begins a nine game home stand tonight and it presents the Birds with a golden opportunity to influence their playoff chances first hand.
Despite a .500 west coast road trip, the Birds hardly lost any ground in either the AL East or the AL Wildcard standings, but in turn that also means they missed a chance to pull closer. Tonight begins a golden opportunity to not only pull closer in the standings, but also pull away from some of their trailing competitors.
Baltimore opens up a three game set tonight against the reeling Colorado Rockies on a weekend where anything short of a series win will be a disappointment. The Orioles will have two of their better starting pitchers going for them tonight and tomorrow in Wei-Yin Chen (6-5) and Bud Norris (8-10) with Scott Feldman (2-3) looking to get back on track on Sunday.
This weekend gives the Birds a golden opportunity in the standings as well. First off the New York Yankees, who are just three games behind the Orioles in the standings are playing the Boston Red Sox, thus every day the O’s will have the opportunity to either gain a game on the Red Sox or pull away from the Yankees, which is huge. Also, the Oakland A’s, who are currently one of the two wildcard teams and have a three game lead over the O’s will be playing the Cleveland Indians this weekend. Cleveland is just a half game behind the Birds in the wildcard standings, so again the Orioles will have a chance to either gain a game on a team in front of them, or pull away from a team just behind them.
After the weekend, the real opportunity arrives in Baltimore. Tampa will come into town for a three game set and are currently 3 ½ games in front of the Orioles, so the Birds will have a chance to control their own destiny in the wildcard standings. More importantly, the Rays will have David Price (6-5) is slated to pitch game one of that series on Monday, thus Baltimore’s woes against left handers will have to be rectified if they want to repeat what they did on opening day this year against Price.
A week from today, after an off day Thursday, the Oakland A’s come into town for a three game series that will have huge implications in the wildcard race as Oakland currently holds the second wildcard spot by three games over the Birds.
Of course, the underlying question on all Orioles fans minds right now is what Manager Buck Showalter will do if the game is in a save situation in the ninth inning. Will he go to Jim Johnson? Honestly, only Showalter himself knows the answer to that question, but if he does bring in Johnson and Jim blows another save, Showalter will risk losing this fan base’s trust. It is obvious that something is not right with Johnson, and if Johnson blows another save, it is easy to imagine just how loud the Orioles fans will be in showing their discontent with Johnson after having to watch him blow his last three save opportunities on the road.
The next ten days, with nine games being slated, present the Orioles with a golden opportunity to control their own destiny in their pursuit of a second consecutive playoff appearance. Gear up Orioles fans as the next ten days will show us a lot about our Birds and just may put them in a great spot heading into the last week of August and into September, but if they proceed to go 4-5 or 3-6 on this home stand, pandemonium may ensue.
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