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The Orioles could find respite in an easier schedule

After last night's loss, the Orioles' third in a row, they have a record of 19-23 and are in last place in the American League East. All good will from the impressive series against the Rays last weekend was erased by an ugly loss to the Red Sox and two horrible games against the Yankees. There are a number of reasons to be pessimistic about the team going forward (the injuries to Brian Roberts and Derrek Lee, the offensive ineptitude, the craptastic bullpen), but I come to give you hope.

With forty-two games played, the Orioles have played just over 25% of their schedule. To give some perspective of what they've been through in those forty-two games, I put together a chart for you:

Record Winning % % of games 1-42
O's Overall Record 19-23 .452 100
vs. Current Division Leaders
6-9 .400 35.7
vs. 2010 Playoff Teams
8-14 .364 52.4
vs. 2011 >.500 Teams
10-18 .357 66.7
vs. 2010 >.500 Teams
13-17 .433 71.4
vs. 2011 ≤ .500 Teams 9-5 .643 33.3
vs. 2010 ≤ .500 Teams 6-6 .500 28.6

As you can see, the Orioles have played over half of their games against teams that were in the playoffs last year, over one-third of their games against current division leaders, greater than two-thirds against teams with winning records this season, and over 70% of their games against teams that had winning records last year. That's a pretty tough schedule.

The teams the Orioles have played so far: BOS (2-2), CHW (3-1), CLE (0-3), DET (2-1), KCR (1-2), MIN (2-2), NYY (0-6), SEA (3-0), TBR (5-4), TEX (1-2).

Beginning tonight, that schedule lightens up considerably. From tonight through July 3rd (a span of thirty-nine games, which will take them to the halfway point of their schedule), this is what their schedule looks like:

# of games % of games 43-81
vs. Current Division Leaders 6 15.4
vs. 2010 Playoff Teams 9 23.1
vs. 2011 >.500 Teams 18 46.2
vs. 2010 >.500 Teams 18 46.2
vs. 2011 ≤ .500 Teams 21 53.8
vs. 2010 ≤ .500 Teams 21 53.8

Interestingly enough, the 2010 and 2011 numbers are identical because all teams in this stretch fit into the same categories that they did last season.

The number of division leaders and playoff teams is cut dramatically over the next thirty-nine games, and the O's will play over half their games against teams that had losing records last year and this year. They'll also play eighteen games against the National League, who historically gets dominated in interleague play (The Orioles are up and down against the NL. Their records in interleague play over the past five years are: 7-11, 11-7, 11-7, 6-12, 9-9), and nine of those games are against two of the worst teams in baseball in the Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates.

The teams they play in this stretch: ATL (3), CIN (3), KCR (3), OAK (6), PIT (3), SEA (3), STL (3), TBR (3), TOR (6), WAS (6).

Honestly, I think four games under .500 after the stretch the Orioles have had isn't half bad. If the starting pitching can keep its act together and Brian Matusz is effective upon his return and if the offense can get itself halfway together, this team could be above .500 after eighty-one games.

Note: All 2011 records are current as of today.