The All Star break has finally come to an end and the Baltimore Orioles will return to the diamond tonight as they begin a tough, three city, 10-game road trip on the west coast. That in itself would be a tough task, but the Orioles will be playing their next 16 games against three of the toughest teams in the American League to begin the second half.
Baltimore is currently 52-42 and have a four game lead in the AL East over the Toronto Blue Jays, and many have all of the sudden labeled the Birds as the favorites in the AL East, but these next 16 games will go a long way in determining that.
There are currently five teams in the American League with at least 50 wins, including Baltimore, but the O's will be playing their next 16 games against three of the four other teams with at least 50 wins already. Over the 16 game stretch, the Birds will play three at Oakland, three at Los Angeles, four at Seattle, three at home vs Los Angeles and three at home vs Seattle.
Baltimore is currently 11-6 against the AL West, but they have taken advantage of the bottom feeders in the division as they have yet to play the Angels and Mariners and have gone 1-2 against the A's this season, thus are 10-4 against the Rangers and Astros.
At least the Orioles will begin their west coast road trip right after the All Star break so the team was able to get out there a day early and try to get their body clocks in sync with west coast time.
While the Orioles are playing three of the best teams in the AL over the next 16 games, the Blue Jays will be playing just three games in the span against a team that is .500 or better, so Baltimore will not only have to deal with some of the best teams the AL has to offer, but have to do so at the same time the Blue Jays are playing some of the worst teams in the AL.
The Orioles may have 68 total games remaining, but these next 16 are vastly important for a number of reasons. First off, you have to prove to yourself that you can beat the teams you could potentially be facing in the playoffs, and two, if the Orioles were to have a 5-11 stretch, they could find themselves looking up at the Blue Jays, especially with the competition that Toronto will be facing over the same timeframe. At the same time, if Baltimore were to go .500 or even have a winning record of the 16 game stretch, they could find themselves in almost cruise control down the stretch.
The tough stretch will begin tonight in Oakland for three games and the Orioles will send Chris Tillman (7-5) to face the A's trade acquisition in Jeff Samardzija with first pitch scheduled for 10:05 pm EST.
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