The Orioles are winners of seven straight games and that feels pretty good, but they enter Thursday's game against the Blue Jays already knowing that they must win in order to keep pace with the second wild card Twins.
Minnesota has already beaten the useless White Sox on Thursday afternoon, with the White Sox blowing a 4-3 lead in the ninth inning and ultimately losing on a walkoff hit by pitch. The Twins don't get to play that dismal team any more, but they do have seven games remaining against the equally poor Tigers.
And here are the Orioles getting their own shot at the last-place Blue Jays tonight. They are already 9-3 against this Jays team this year. It feels good that the Orioles have won seven in a row, but if they stumble after doing that, they're going to need to turn around and pull off another improbable winning streak to do this thing. The Orioles have to keep winning and hope other teams start losing. That's where they're at.
It's hard to stay in a good mood about the team when I really think about it like that. They are going with six starters right now and three of those starters are Jeremy Hellickson, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Chris Tillman. It's Hellickson who is in action tonight opposite Jays starter Marco Estrada.
Estrada is in the same category as Ariel Miranda in that the Orioles should destroy him. He enters this game with an ERA of about 5 and he has surrendered 24 home runs in 151.2 innings. Of course the Orioles have to lose eventually, because no team wins every game, but they're going to regret it if they don't extend the winning streak tonight.
If you can stomach acknowledging to yourself that there is a game in which your preference is for the Red Sox to win, be sure to root for the Yankees to lose tonight. If that happens, there will actually be a tie for both AL wild card spots, with the O's being in play for either - if they can keep winning.
|TORONTO BLUE JAYS||BALTIMORE ORIOLES|
|Steve Pearce - 1B||Tim Beckham - SS|
|Josh Donaldson - 3B||Manny Machado - 3B|
|Kendrys Morales - DH||Jonathan Schoop - 2B|
|Jose Bautista - RF||Adam Jones - CF|
|Miguel Montero - C||Trey Mancini - LF|
|Kevin Pillar - CF||Chris Davis - 1B|
|Ezequiel Carrera - LF||Mark Trumbo - DH|
|Darwin Barney - 2B||Welington Castillo - C|
|Ryan Goins - SS||Seth Smith - RF|
|Marco Estrada - RHP||Jeremy Hellickson - RHP|