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MLB Playoffs 2016: The Orioles take aim at the AL East

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A winning road trip has the Orioles in a good place, but they must keep winning if they want to take advantage.

Orioles players celebrate after a 1-0 victory in Boston.
Orioles players celebrate after a 1-0 victory in Boston.
Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

The Orioles picked a good time to have their best road trip of the season. According to a stat on last night’s MASN O’s Xtra post-game show, it was the Orioles best road trip of the past 18 years: The only time since 1998 that they’ve won three series in a road trip.

As a result of that 6-3 road trip, many doors are open to the Orioles that we may have long assumed were closed. For several weeks now, the O’s playoff path has seemed to be pretty much limited to the second wild card spot. Could they play well enough to hold off the charging teams coming up from below them?

Yet the way that things have worked out, with the Orioles getting hot again as other teams start to run into some problems, it’s going better than that, for now. The Orioles are now ahead of the Blue Jays for the #1 wild card spot and they’re just a game behind the Red Sox for the AL East lead. All those teams charging up are Toronto’s problem at this moment.

The Red Sox play the Yankees four games this weekend while the Orioles play the Rays. They’ve still got to play the games and they’ve still got to do their best, but that seems to be in the O’s favor.

The Orioles have 17 games left to play. Eleven of those games will be against playoff contenders, but eleven of them will also be at home, where they have played well.

The Fangraphs standings prediction has shifted. They now think the Orioles and Blue Jays will tie for the wild card spots at 89 wins. That would still put the O’s as the second wild card team. Unless they sweep the Jays in the penultimate series, the Jays will hold the tiebreaker for home field advantage. The Red Sox are projected to take the AL East with 91 wins.

Boston Red Sox

  • Standing: AL East leader; one game ahead of Orioles
  • Yesterday: Lost to Orioles, 1-0
  • Next series: vs. Yankees (77-68), four games
  • Current playoff chances: 91.1%
  • To reach 91 wins: 10-7

It’s going to be weird rooting for the Yankees for the weekend, but you know what? The Yankees will still be the incarnate of all evil in the sports world on Monday and the Orioles COULD be in first place. I will happily hate the Yankees from first place. The Orioles have to hold up their part too, of course.

Baltimore Orioles

  • Standing: Home wild card team; one game behind Red Sox for AL East
  • Yesterday: Beat Red Sox, 1-0
  • Next series: vs. Rays (62-83), four games
  • Current playoff chances: 66.1% (up from 54.4 before Monday’s games)
  • To reach 91 / 89 wins: 11-6 / 9-8

Winning fewer than three out of four against the Rays is going to feel like a disappointment. I’m as nervous about this series as I was for the Red Sox one. It could be a trap.

Toronto Blue Jays

  • Standing: Road wild card team; one game behind Orioles
  • Yesterday: Lost to Rays, 8-1
  • Next series: at Angels (63-82), four games
  • Current playoff chances: 63.1% (down from 73.6)
  • To reach 89 wins: 10-7

The Jays are 37-34 on the road. They’re swinging west for seven games, including four against the Angels and three against the Mariners, who’ve won nine of ten. This weekend is their prime chance to get themselves back in the game.

Detroit Tigers

  • Standing: One game behind Blue Jays for second wild card
  • Yesterday: Beat Twins, 9-6
  • Next series: One game vs. Twins today, then at Indians (84-61), three games
  • Current playoff chances: 37.7% (down from 45.9)
  • To reach 89 wins: 11-6

Seven of the Tigers last seventeen games will come against their division leader, the Indians. Another seven come against the two worst teams in baseball, the Twins and the Braves, including their last three games of the year. For now, this is Toronto’s problem.

Seattle Mariners

  • Standing: 1.5 games behind Blue Jays
  • Yesterday: Beat Angels, 2-1
  • Next series: vs. Astros (76-70), three games
  • Current playoff chances: 26.3% (up from 11.8)
  • To reach 89 wins: 11-5

The Mariners have now won nine out of ten to get themselves to where they are in this picture. They’re going to have to keep winning games at an incredible pace to stay in this thing. It can be done, especially since they’ll have a chance to take games out of the Jays this weekend.

New York Yankees

  • Standing: Two games behind Blue Jays
  • Yesterday: Lost to Dodgers, 2-0
  • Next series: at Red Sox (81-64), four games
  • Current playoff chances: 9.4% (down from 13.4)
  • To reach 89 wins: 12-5

As my friend and fellow Camden Chatter Stacey Folkemer said to me earlier today, “I’d rather the Orioles get the division and the Yankees get the wild card, than the Orioles get the wild card and the Yankees miss the playoffs.”

So, for just the next four games... go Yankees? Excuse me, I’m going to go be sick.