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MLB Playoffs 2016: The Orioles hold their ground through a disappointing weekend

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That Rays series wasn’t much fun for the Orioles, but as it all worked out, it didn’t hurt their postseason chances any.

The Orioles celebrate after a win against the Rays.
The Orioles chances of making the playoffs at all are looking pretty good - for now.
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

The Orioles recent great road trip raised a lot of excitement about the possibility of the Orioles making a run at the AL East crown. Unfortunately, a disappointing weekend set against the last place Rays combined with the Yankees getting swept over four games by Boston, like the losing losers that they are, has that dream holding on by a thread.

The good news for the Orioles is that their wild card chances were not hurt at all. The competition didn’t fare a whole lot better over the weekend. There are so few games remaining that just preserving the status quo is an OK thing for the O’s to do. Every game they hold on is one fewer game where another team can make up ground on them.

It’d take a sweep for the Orioles to get back atop the AL East by the end of this series. It’s one of those things that’s possible in theory but isn’t going to happen. If they win three out of four against Boston, they’d end up a game back with nine games to play. That would be interesting, but don’t count on that happening either.

The Fangraphs standings prediction has once again shifted. The Orioles have the edge on being the home wild card team with 89 wins. They think the Blue Jays will be the road wild card team with 88 wins, while the Red Sox win the AL East with 92 wins. Maybe the Orioles can shake that up in a good way for themselves over the next four days.

Boston Red Sox

  • Standing: AL East leader; three games ahead of Orioles
  • Yesterday: Beat Yankees, 5-4
  • Next series: at Orioles (82-67), four games
  • Current playoff chances: 99.4% (up from 91.1)
  • To reach 92 wins: 7-6

I can’t believe how completely the Yankees collapsed over the entire weekend. Couldn’t those idiots have managed to win at least one game? No, they couldn’t. That’s how it is. They put us in a position where we actually had to almost, kinda-sorta root for them, and they completely fail. I hate those guys. But right now I’m going to have to hear all about the Vandal, David Ortiz, and his farewell tour the next four days.

Baltimore Orioles

  • Standing: Home wild card team; one game ahead of Blue Jays
  • Yesterday: Beat Rays, 2-1
  • Next series: vs. Red Sox (85-64), four games
  • Current playoff chances: 74.5% (up from 66.1)
  • To reach 89 wins: 7-6

The idea of the Orioles getting to 92 wins requires belief that they will only lose three games for the entire rest of the season, although if they somehow beat the Red Sox over this four game series, Boston won’t be projected to win 92 games any more, either. At this point, they need at least a split to try to hold onto the home wild card spot.

Toronto Blue Jays

  • Standing: Road wild card team; two games ahead of Tigers and Mariners
  • Yesterday: Lost to Angels, 4-0
  • Next series: at Mariners (79-70), three games
  • Current playoff chances: 66.7% (up from 63.1)
  • To reach 89 wins: 8-5

Toronto is in the middle of a major September swoon. They’re just 5-11 in the month. That’s bad news for them and great news for anyone who would revel in their glorious failure. Their next series is against the Mariners, who are the team directly chasing them. It’s going to get mighty interesting if the Mariners win the series.

Seattle Mariners

  • Standing: Two games behind Blue Jays
  • Yesterday: Beat Astros, 7-3
  • Next series: vs. Blue Jays (81-68), three games
  • Current playoff chances: 22.1% (down from 26.3)
  • To reach 88 wins: 9-4

A sweep would put them ahead of the Blue Jays for the second wild card spot. Winning the series would leave them one game back. You should always be careful which team you’re vaguely rooting for, because you never know who’s going to turn into a team of destiny buzzsaw that may later destroy the Orioles. But I do like the idea of the Jays failing hilariously.

Detroit Tigers

  • Standing: Two games behind Blue Jays
  • Yesterday: Beat Indians, 9-5
  • Next series: at Twins (55-95), three games
  • Current playoff chances: 24.3% (down from 37.7)
  • To reach 88 wins: 9-4

Did you know that the Tigers are just 2-13 against their division leader, the Indians? That’s insane for a team that’s otherwise competitive. Lucky for the Orioles that the Tigers are that bad, because if they were even 7-8 against Cleveland, they’d be two games up on the O’s in the standings. Their series against the pathetic Twins may be a chance to turn things around - both teams the Jays are trying stay ahead of could gain on them.

Houston Astros

  • Standing: Three games behind Blue Jays
  • Yesterday: Lost to Mariners, 7-3
  • Next series: at Athletics (66-83), three games
  • Current playoff chances: 11.1%
  • To reach 88 wins: 10-3

The three games back with 13 games to play is daunting enough for Houston, but the fact that they must also pass two OTHER teams before they can even take aim at the Blue Jays is an even bigger problem. Their elimination number - or tragic number, if you prefer - for a postseason spot is just 11. That’s 11 Jays wins or Houston losses.

**

Things are looking pretty good for the Orioles to at least get into the playoffs at all at this point, but what’s it really going to be worth if all they do is squeak in to the second wild card spot and then have to go play one game in Toronto to keep their season alive?

And maybe the Orioles will even do something crazy and have a great series against the Red Sox to keep their AL East chances alive. Stranger things have happened.