What's one barrier keeping the Orioles from being at the top of the division?
Meanwhile, the Rays and the Red Sox have capitalized on such occasions, as both of them have won 2 out of every 3 games against these teams. And our beloved Orioles have won less than half of their games against these losing squads. Talk about disappointing.
Their chance to get back on track happens over the course of the next 2+ weeks:
First, they'll begin a series mañana against the Houston Astros that shouldn't be blown. This series should be seen as an opportunity to cash in against a weak opponent. However, this is by no means a given sweep or series win. The Orioles' bats will have to be far better than they were in the series finale against the Red Sox. However, I do believe the Orioles will win this series, as Chen, Gonzalez and Tillman will be starters.
Then they'll continue their home stretch with a three-game set against the Mariners. The Mariners have been seemingly unstoppable as of late, winning 7 of their last 10. Their recent success has only been surpassed by the Dodgers and Rays. It may be very well possible to see them pass up the Rangers soon, who have been 2-8 over the last 10 games. It just can't happen when they come to Baltimore. I have a good amount of respect for the M's organization and wish them success in the future. I would actually love to see them surprise everyone, as the Birds did last year. This is going to be a tough series, as the Orioles will be facing off against a hot team with their shakiest pitchers. Then again, the Mariners are putting out some of their less quality starters, too.
They'll begin their road trek as they head to San Diego. No excuses on this one. This is only a two-game set where the Orioles will have their best starters up on the mound. If the pitchers deal at Petco Park and the bats are successful, this is a series the Orioles will likely win. But Baltimore has lost twice to the Padres this season and it would be super frustrating to lose or tie on their short visit in southern California.
Heading north, they'll play the cellar-dwelling San Francisco Giants. There's not too much analysis that can be had here, but hopefully Baltimore's woes against bad teams can end early on and continue in the Bay Area. It feels like I've said something very similar to "nothing can be taken for granted" in each paragraph here, but it's true. How critical it is to capitalize on these opportunities cannot be understated.
The Orioles will end their western expedition in Arizona, playing against a Diamondbacks team that has been on the downward track as of late. There's no saying how this series will go as it is reasonably far off, but ending with a series win in the desert would be wonderful.
Winning all of these series will be fairly challenging for the inconsistent Orioles, but this is as easy as it will get for them, as they'll have a rough time travelling up the standings otherwise. Winning at home against western teams and winning out west are imperative for the Orioles to see their rank in the AL East rise. They currently sit 5.0 games behind the Red Sox, who only lead the Rays by a half game.