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After weekend sweep, Orioles take aim at the home wild card spot

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Last time the Orioles had a good series and got our hopes up, they went and got swept, so, let’s hope they don’t go and do that again.

Matt Wieters and Tyler Wilson high five after an Orioles victory. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

What a difference a sweep makes, as long as you’re on the right end of it. The pendulum has swung from the Orioles getting swept by the Red Sox, extinguishing their AL East hopes and putting their wild card chances on the ropes, to the Orioles sweeping the Diamondbacks, putting them back into the driver’s seat to at least get a wild card spot.

The magic number for the Orioles to clinch a postseason appearance at all is five with six games to play. Every time the Orioles win a game, that number goes down by one. It also will go down if both the Tigers and Mariners lose. The O’s are two games up.

That’s a good place to be in. You’d sure rather be up by two games than down by two games. But what good does it do them, really, to squeak in as the road wild card team, only to qualify for one more game in Toronto? They’re horrible in Toronto! That means they need to aim higher.

Unfortunately for the Orioles, at this point in the season, aiming higher means they’re going to have to win a series against the Blue Jays in Toronto, then go on to have a good series in New York against the Yankees while hoping that the Jays falter against the Red Sox, who may have little left to play for, unless they count the #1 seed in the AL as being something worth playing for.

As things stand right now in the Fangraphs standings predictions, 88 wins will take the second wild card spot. The Orioles only have to go 3-3 to hit that. The Jays are expected to hit the first wild card spot with 89 wins. If the Orioles can win in this series - if! - that will probably flip around. It’s a big series. A huge series!

Here’s who’s left in the picture at this point.

Toronto Blue Jays

  • Standing: Home wild card team; one game ahead of Orioles
  • Last Game: Lost to Yankees, 7-5
  • Next series: vs. Orioles (85-71), three games
  • Current playoff chances: 92.2% (up from 77.2 before Friday’s games)
  • To reach 89 wins (WC1): 3-3

If the Orioles want to have any chance of hosting a wild card game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, they have to win at least two out of three in this series. That’s all there is to it. That won’t be easy. That’s what they have to do, though.

The Jays are pretty much in the dance. They would basically have to go 0-6 the last six games to not make it at all, and even then they would make it if the Tigers/Mariners stumble.

Baltimore Orioles

  • Standing: Road wild card team; two games ahead of Tigers/Mariners
  • Last Game: Beat Diamondbacks, 2-1
  • Next series: at Blue Jays (86-70)
  • Current playoff chances: 72.2% (up from 33.9)
  • To reach 88 wins (WC2): 3-3

The last time I had something resembling a good feeling about the Orioles, they went and got their butts swept with the offense doing little to nothing over four games and various meltdowns occurring due to fluke plays or mental lapses.

A 72.2% chance of making the playoffs is indeed a pretty big number, but it won’t stay that high if they don’t go on and win a few games the rest of the way. I have absolutely no idea what is going to happen, which is terrifying and exciting.

Detroit Tigers

  • Standing: Two games behind Orioles
  • Last Game: Lost to Indians, 7-4
  • Current series: vs. Indians (91-65), three more games
  • Current playoff chances: 17.4% (down from 57.8)
  • To reach 88 wins: 5-1

Detroit has a pretty big problem as it is needing to make up two games with six games to play just to make it into the postseason. The problem is even bigger than that, because three of their last six games will be against the Indians, against whom they’re 2-14 so far this year. That’s really astounding.

The Indians clinched the division last night, but they can still take aim at being a higher seed in the postseason, so they may not just fold up the tents. The Orioles certainly hope that the Indians don’t fold up the tents.

Seattle Mariners

  • Standing: Two games behind Orioles
  • Last Game: Beat Astros, 4-3
  • Current series: at Astros (82-75), two more games
  • Current playoff chances: 16.8% (up from 12.9)
  • To reach 88 wins: 5-1

The Mariners may have more or less buried what remained of Houston’s postseason hopes by beating them last night. They’ve got two more remaining against Houston before they close the season with four games against the Athletics. Seattle, unlike the Orioles, is good against Oakland, going 10-5 on the season.

Don’t count them out yet. The Orioles are really just two bad games away from suddenly finding their two game cushion being gone completely.

**

The Astros, Yankees, and Royals still technically have life remaining in that they’re not yet mathematically eliminated, but any one of them would have to win out and hope for a lot of help. Their “tragic numbers” (that is, their own losses plus Orioles wins) are 3, 2, and 1, respectively.

All that the Orioles can do now is win and see how everything else lands. Seriously, Orioles, don’t get swept this time after getting people’s hopes up.