Wednesday afternoon’s Orioles loss to the Rays could hardly have been worse. There are only so many games left and the O’s need to win the winnable games against bad teams. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that the three days of baseball just played could hardly have gone better for the Orioles, short of the O’s getting that sweep. One of the teams the Orioles are chasing in the division, the Blue Jays, stumbled and got swept, and since the Orioles won their own series, they made sure that most of the competition coming from below could get no closer to them.
Trailing the Jays by just a game for the first wild card spot, and the Red Sox by only two games for the division lead, the Orioles are not out of hope for passing either one of those teams, or potentially even both. They will be playing one another this weekend, giving the Orioles prime chance of gaining ground if they can play well.
The Orioles are going to need to play well for their wild card spot’s sake this weekend, too. The Detroit Tigers, now one game behind the O’s for that playoff spot, await the Orioles for a crucial and potentially decisive showdown.
Through Wednesday’s results, the Fangraphs standings predictions still think that the Orioles, finishing with 88 wins, will take the second wild card spot. We’ll stick with that until finding out something different.
- Wild Card Standing: Road wild card team; one game behind Jays for home spot
- Yesterday: Lost to Rays, 7-6
- Next series: at Tigers (75-64), three games
- Current playoff chances: 46.1% (up from 37.2 before Monday’s games)
- To reach 88 wins: 12-11
- Wild Card Standing: One game behind Orioles
- Yesterday: Lost to White Sox, 7-4
- Next series: vs. Orioles (76-63), three games
- Current playoff chances: 45.9% (down from 57)
- To reach 88 wins: 13-10
- Wild Card Standing: Two games behind Orioles
- Yesterday: Lost to Indians, 6-5
- Next series: at Indians today, then at Twins (52-88), three games
- Current playoff chances: 22.4% (up from 18.3)
- To reach 88 wins: 14-9
New York Yankees
- Wild Card Standing: 2.5 games behind Orioles
- Yesterday: Beat Blue Jays, 2-0
- Next series: vs. Rays (59-79), four games
- Current playoff chances: 8.5% (up from 2.6)
- To reach 88 wins: 15-9
Kansas City Royals
- Wild Card Standing: Four games behind Orioles
- Yesterday: Lost to Twins, 6-5
- Next series: at White Sox (67-72), three games
- Current playoff chances: 3.5% (up from 2.6)
- To reach 88 wins: 16-7
With apologies to the Mariners, I’m digging the wild card grave for them for the year. Although their postseason chance is the same as the Royals (3.5%) they are now five games back with 23 games to play and five teams to pass. If they pull off a sweep this weekend, I’ll put them back in the picture.
It’s still something of a question whether 88 wins will really be enough to win this thing. And by “this thing” I really mean the right to go on the road for a one game winner-take-all wild card game, which, what is that even worth, really? Maybe the Orioles used up all of their wild card game good luck four years ago!
All that the Orioles have to do to get to 88 wins now is win more games than they lose. However, only seven of their final 23 games will be against non-contenders, and 12 of the final 23 will be played on the road.
The fact that the Orioles will be playing the Tigers this weekend gives them a great opportunity to put some daylight on their closest competitor. All of these other teams in the race will be playing non-contenders this weekend, though, so they likely aren’t going to shake any of them over the next three days.
The Orioles have better postseason chances than they did three days ago. That’s good, but it’ll be better still if they can improve on that three days from now. And of course, it’s only the way the standings look in three weeks time that really matters.