Initially, I felt that the next 5 series (6, counting the completed series w/ Houston) are extremely critical for Baltimore's playoff hopes. But the O's will still play 9 more games against Boston and 7 more against Tampa Bay and a crucial wild card series against Oakland and Cleveland. But certainly the O's want to set themselves up better before they head into the final month and change with 11 of the last 14 series against teams with winning records.
So I took a look at how the other AL East contenders (for a baseline I included TMFY) did against the NL West, Seattle, and Houston.
NY Yankees (2-1), Tampa Bay (5-2), Boston (4-0), Baltimore (4-2)
NY Yankees (4-3), Tampa Bay (0-0), Boston (6-1), Baltimore (1-2)
NY Yankees (0-0), Tampa Bay (3-0), Boston (3-0), Baltimore (1-1)
NY Yankees (0-0), Tampa Bay (0-0), Boston (0-0), Baltimore (0-0)
NY Yankees (2-1), Tampa Bay (1-1), Boston (0-0), Baltimore (0-0)
NY Yankees (2-1), Tampa Bay (2-1), Boston (2-0), Baltimore (0-0)
NY Yankees (2-2), Tampa Bay (0-0), Boston (0-0), Baltimore (2-1)
NYY (12-8), TB (11-4), BOS (11-1), BAL (8-6)
Both Boston and Tampa have feasted on the bottom dwellers of the league. That Boston record in particular is insane. This is the number the O's must strive for and attain if they wish to stay competitive in the AL East and the wild card. Series wins do not cut it, unless you are a New York fan. Baltimore needs sweeps and they need them now.
They get 14 more games against these teams, a series win with a 2 game sweep of SD would put them at 10-4 for the set. Which seems great until you consider Boston and Tampa also has 14 games left against the same opponents. Now that 10-4 record looks barely good enough to keep pace. Baltimore needs to figure out how to sweep and fast.
I do like how the O's pitchers currently lineup. Both Miguel Gonzalez and Bud Norris get to pitch in the cavernous Petco Park. Hopefully, MiGo can work out his kinks and we shouldn't have to worry about too many HR offerings from Bud there. But the pitchers haven't been the problem of late. It's been the bats. Not much to be said there that Adam Jones hasn't already said.
Hopefully, the bats wake up and the pitching stays respectable (with an occasional flash of spectacular?) and this team finally gets that double-digit win streak that has eluded them. Because if they don't get at least double digit wins from the next 5 series, it won't break them, but Baltimore might very well be on the outside looking in come October.