Can the Baltimore Orioles win the American League East?

By Lance Rinker

How good does it feel to be a fan of the Baltimore Orioles right now? I mean really – you wake up this morning and take a look at the standings and the Orioles are just one game behind the New York Yankees (who they just took two of three from over the weekend) for the American League East division lead.

While the Yankees have been in sole possession of first place for 83 consecutive days, that number is getting tighter with each passing day. Losers in nine of their past 13 games, the Yankees did get a boost on Monday with the return of Alex Rodriguez to the lineup but how much of a boost is a 37-year old designated hitter really?

A-Rod is posting his lowest SLG and OPS since 1995, when he was a 19-year old shortstop with the Seattle Mariners and played in just 48 games.

The Yankees are currently without Andy Pettitte, Ivan Nova, and Mark Teixeira for who knows how much longer and Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson are dealing with some minor injuries that could keep them out of the lineup for a couple of days as well. These players listed are just the ones that are expected to come back before the season is over – I’m pretty sure the Yanks don’t even want to discuss Michael Pineda or Mariano Rivera.

My point is that the Yankees are really hurting right now and barely clinging on to first place. They may still be able to hit but their starting rotation is a mess and their bullpen isn’t much better. I’m sure many fans of the Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays are ecstatic that the Yankee window of playoff opportunities is beginning to close.

It’s about time too because that window has been open for close to 20 years now – I considered them to be greedy little snots at the five year mark, as that’s about the average window for the ‘average’ franchise.

The Orioles will look to give themselves the opportunity to be in a two-way tie with the Yankees for first place by beating the Toronto Blue Jays (again) tonight and hope that the Rays can beat the Yankees for a second game in a row.

One of the more pivotal series of the season begins on September 6 when the Yankees visit the Orioles in Baltimore for a four-game series that will determine who’s in first place with three weeks to go after that. All the Orioles can do is take care of business as they have all season long and just do their jobs to put themselves into the best position possible.

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