As Mark mentioned in Camden Cast, the time has come to acknowledge that the Baltimore Orioles are, in fact, in a pennant race. I know that some of you have already embraced it but, well, I've been burned before. It's hard for me to trust!
Since I've been scoreboard watching on my own for a few weeks now, I thought it'd be nice to have a regular update of how our foes are doing and who they'll be facing in the week ahead. For more on each team and what they have going for them, check out the Camden Cast.
Going into tonight's series against the Texas Rangers, the Orioles have a record of 66-55, which is good for third in the A.L. East as well as one of the two Wild Card spots. But what about the competition?
New York Yankees
1st place, AL East, 6 games ahead of the Orioles
The big talk around here is that the Orioles are in contention for the wild card, and that's awesome. It also seems like a foregone conclusion that the Yankees have locked up the A.L. East, but if we're going to believe in this team, let's BELIEVE in this team. The Orioles and Yankees go head-to-head seven more times this season, so if the good guys can just keep pace until then, then who knows what might happen.
If you turned on a TV this weekend, you probably saw that the Yankees were playing the Red Sox. As you would expect considering the way the Red Sox play the game of baseball in 2012, the Yankees won the series, taking two out of three. That didn't allow the Orioles to gain any ground. Red Sox can't do anything right.
Beginning tonight, the Yankees play the White Sox for three games. The White Sox, of course, are another team we want to lose, but for the next three days we should root for them to beat the Yankees. After that the Yankees will spend the weekend playing the Cleveland Indians, from whom the Orioles should expect no help at all.
Tampa Bay Rays
2nd Place, AL East, 1 game ahead of the Orioles
1st AL Wild Card Spot
The Rays spent the weekend sweeping a four-game series from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, gaining two games on both the Orioles and the Yankees in the process. They've been red hot lately, having gone 8-2 in their last ten games.
This week the Rays have a six-game homestand with three each against the Kansas City Royals and Oakland Athletics. So that's three games against a last-place team and three games against another team that the Orioles are competing for a WC spot with. Go Royals! (And A's, although my heart isn't totally in it).
2nd Place, AL West, 5 games behind the Texas Rangers
3rd Place, AL Wild Card, 0.5 games behind the Orioles
The Athletics and Orioles have the same number of losses, with the O's tallying just one more win. The surprising A's swept the Indians this weekend (see? They give us no help) and get another cake walk over the next three days as they take on the Minnesota Twins at home.
We normally won't be rooting for the A's to win, but as I mentioned above, they play the Rays this coming weekend, so let's root, root, root for the A's.
The White Sox aren't technically in the Wild Card race, but since they're only a game and a half ahead of the Tigers in the AL Central, they could be if the Tigers catch them. The White Sox just got swept by the Royals and almost no-hit by Jeremy Guthrie, so they had a bad weekend. Luckily for them the Tigers couldn't gain much ground thanks to two losses to the Orioles.
Hopefully the White Soxgot the losing out of their system as they start a series tonight with the Yankees. Come on, White Sox, do us a solid! (I do not understand that saying) After the Yankees, the White Sox will spend the weekend with the last-place Seattle Mariners.
2ndPlace, AL Central, 1.5 games behind the White Sox
4th Place, AL Wild Card, 2 games behind the Orioles
After losing two of three to our Orioles this past weekend, the Tigers have a day off today before playing the Toronto Blue Jays at home for three games, followed by three against the Angels. The Blue Jays have been pretty crappy lately, but hopefully they can get their act together and help out their AL East brethren.
Depending on how the first part of the week goes, if the Tigers sweep the Angels next weekend, they could essentially eliminate the them from contention.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
3rd Place, AL West, 9 games behind the Rangers
5th Place, AL Wild Card, 4.5 games behind the Orioles
It was a rough weekend for the Angels, who lost four straight to the Rays despite their good on-paper team. They're off tonight as they travel to the east coast where they'll have the joy of playing the Red Sox. If they can't manage success against the lowly Sox they should probably just call it a day because their trip to Detroit isn't going to be any easier.
I'm hoping at as the season goes on we'll be able to drop a few teams from this list, and the while the Angels certainly seem like they might be the first to go due to their record, I won't count out their team until they're dead. They have the talent to go on a pretty great run, and I have my fingers crossed that it won't happen.