The Baltimore Orioles have the toughest schedule in baseball, will be lucky to play .500 baseball in April, play 16-consecutive games against the AL East and have a tough four-game series against the Boston Red Sox coming up. Those are all things I’ve read or heard from fans and baseball writers addressing the current state of the Orioles, but how much truth is there to those statements? Not much, actually.
While the Orioles do have one of the toughest schedules in baseball and they do play 16-straight games within their own division, that isn’t the death sentence people seem to think it is, and their four-game series against the Red Sox doesn’t look like it’s going be a very tough series.
The Orioles are going to play the defending World Champion Red Sox 16 times this season regardless of when they play, but playing a four-game series against them now, versus two months from now, is a blessing in disguise.
Right now the Red Sox look awful: they’re 6-9, they have key players out with injuries and their offense is anemic. The way that Boston is playing right now is not the way they were playing last year when they won the World Series. However, the Red Sox are obviously a very talented team, and sooner or later they’re going to look more like the team that dominated everyone in the playoffs last season to win their third championship in the last decade than the team they look like right now.
In comparison, when the Orioles faced the Houston Astros in 2013, people assumed the Orioles would roll past the last-place Astros, but that wasn’t the case. Houston came into the series riding a six-game winning streak (the longest active streak in MLB at the time) and played very well. The Orioles did take two of the three games from the Astros, but in game one it took a Chris Davis homer to give Baltimore a 4-3 win, and then in game two, the Astros blew Baltimore out, beating them 11-0. Not exactly a free three wins like some people thought it would be.
The point being, it’s not about what teams you play, it’s about when you play them.
The Orioles have to take advantage of a struggling Red Sox team now and take the four-game series because the next time these two teams meet the tables could be turned. It could be the Orioles struggling and the Red Sox hitting their stride, baseball is a long season. This weekend, the Orioles need to morph into predators and prey on the weakened Red Sox to put themselves in a better position to succeed down the road.