Tuesday, September 17, 2013 the Baltimore Orioles are once again right in the middle of a playoff race for the second consecutive season, but this year they will have to fight their way in as opposed to holding off the competition. There may be 13 games remaining on the schedule, but we are going to know whether the Birds are going to have a chance at a playoff spot or not over the next seven games.
Sitting just two games back of the second wildcard spot, this week is essentially a make or break week as the Orioles have a golden opportunity to realistically own a wildcard spot a week from today.
Baltimore begins this all important seven game stretch tonight against the Boston Red Sox, and although the AL East title is no longer a possibility for the Birds, the Orioles are in a situation where they have to, yes have to win at least two out of three. The reason for such urgency is twofold; the first of which is the obvious reason that there are only 13 games remaining, but the less obvious reason is that four of the six teams competing for the two AL Wildcard spots are playing each other, thus an opportunity to gain ground on two will present itself every night over the next three days.
The top two teams in the wildcard standings, in the Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers began a four game series last night with the Rays coming out on top, thus allowing the Orioles to move within two games of the Rangers for the second wildcard spot. Kansas City and Cleveland are also playing each other and thanks to a victory by the Royals last night over the Indians, the Birds also gained a half game on the Tribe, who are also currently ahead of them.
After the Orioles finish up a three game series in Boston, then the playoffs essentially begin for Baltimore as they will travel to Tampa to take on the Rays in a CRUCIAL four game series. The Orioles will hope to get a shot in the arm once they get to Tampa as Darren O’Day will hopefully return to the bullpen for that series as he is dealing with soreness and tingling in his right index and middle fingers.
As you can see, this week presents the O’s with the absolute perfect scenario to not only gain ground, but to find themselves in control of a wildcard spot a week from today. If you are a player or coach, you could not ask for anything more than what the Orioles are getting this week: other teams in the race beating each other, playing a team that has essentially won their division, and then playing one of the teams in front of you in the race.
One thing is for certain, the next seven days will not only be difficult for the players and coaches on the field, but a heart wrenching, nerve racking, must see, can’t watch week of baseball for Orioles fans.
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