With just six games left in the season the final week of baseball is upon us. The Baltimore Orioles find themselves one game back of the New York Yankees for the AL East lead and one game up on the Oakland Athletics for the first wild card spot. The Orioles are three games ahead of the third team in the wild card chase, meaning they would have to lose three games in the standings over their last six games to fall out of the playoffs. The playoffs are by no means a guarantee, but the Orioles also find themselves in solid shape heading into the final weekend.
On Thursday the Yankees, A’s, and Los Angeles Angels all lost. The Orioles will face off against the Boston Red Sox this weekend before finishing the season against the Tampa Bay Rays in a three game series.
Friday night at Camden Yards, young righty Chris Tillman faces off against Aaron Cook. On paper, the Orioles have the advantage. Tillman is 8-2 with a 3.08 ERA while Cook is 4-10 with a 5.13 ERA. Tillman has been the Orioles best starter since being called up in July. However, anyone who knows baseball knows statistics don’t matter. Any team on any given day can win. As bad as the Red Sox have been this season you have to believe they are going to be motivated to get some revenge after the Orioles spoiled the Red Sox postseason hopes last season.
Saturday’s pitching match up is Steve Johnson (4-0, 1.62 ERA) for the Orioles against Felix Doubront (11-9, 4.91 ERA) for the Red Sox. Doubront is coming off a 11 strikeout performance against the Orioles in his last start, while Johnson has pitched well in three starts this season.
On Sunday the Red Sox will have Zach Stewart pitching, while Buck Showalter has yet to announce his starter. The Orioles rotation has been a constant juggling act since August so why should the last few games be any different?
It’s pretty simple for the Orioles. If they continue to get quality starts from their starting pitching and timely hitting they will win. As much as baseball analysts will want to make it seem like rocket science, it’s not. The Orioles need quality starts from their rotation and they need to continue to get production throughout their batting order. The Orioles don’t have one superstar player, but it seems they continue to get production from a different player every night. It doesn’t matter who it is, but the Orioles will once again need someone to step up and carry the team this weekend.
The Red Sox are coming to town this weekend and they want revenge. Buckle up Orioles fans it’s going to be a wild final week.