With eight games to play, the chances of the Orioles winning the AL East took a hit yesterday. Don’t count the Orioles out just yet though. A lot of baseball experts think the Yankees will win the division because of their easier schedule concluding the season. One thing you have to keep in mind is these losing teams love to play the role of spoiler. Remember the Orioles playing the Boston Red Sox last season? The Orioles and their fans took pride in the fact that they were able to help knock the Red Sox out of the playoffs. I don’t buy into the weaker schedule argument.
Sure, the Yankees remaining nine games are against losing teams. However, don’t discount the power of the underdog. Despite my hatred for the Red Sox, I fully expect them to give the Yankees all they got the final three games of the season.
As of Tuesday the Orioles are 1.5 games back of the Yankees for the AL East lead. If the Orioles can stay within one game of the Yankees come the final three games of the season, they have a very real chance of at least tying for the division lead. The Yankees conclude the season with three games at home against the Red Sox, while the Orioles play the Tampa Bay Rays in Tampa Bay.
If the Orioles can stay within a game come the final series all it takes is the Yankees to stumble just a bit and lose two out of three to the Red Sox. The Orioles, of course, would have to win at least two of three from the Rays (which is no easy task). If the Orioles can tie the Yankees at the end of the regular season, the Yankees and Orioles would square off in a one game playoff next Thursday to decide the AL East winner.
Orioles fans can’t get too greedy in the process of trying for the AL East division title. With eight games to play the Orioles find themselves in the top wild-card spot 1.5 games ahead of the Oakland Athletics. Basically, the Orioles are 3.5 games ahead of the Los Angeles Angels and falling out of the playoffs entirely. It would take a very bad final stretch for the Orioles to completely fall out of wild-card and the playoffs, but they can’t overlook the wild-card spots. Right now the Orioles are 4.5 games ahead of the Rays and they conclude the season with three games in Tampa Bay. I think Orioles fans would breathe easier if they could go into the final series knowing they at least have a wild card spot locked up. This, of course, could be wishful thinking. The Orioles could find themselves playing for all the marbles come the final series in Tampa Bay.
Yes, the Orioles have fallen to 1.5 games back of the Yankees. Yes, the Yankees have a ridiculously easy schedule the final nine games of the season. Anything can happen over the final eight/nine games. Keep hope alive, Orioles fans. “Orioles Magic” has brought us this far, let’s see if it brings us to the top of the AL East at the end of the season.