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Friday Bird Droppings: Where the Orioles’ September gauntlet continues

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With plenty of divisional matchups remaining, the O’s can help decide which AL East foes make the playoffs. They’ll probably decide it by losing most of those games, but still.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

Orioles fans have gotten what they’ve always asked for: the opportunity to play meaningful games in September. Unfortunately, they’re only meaningful for the Orioles’ opponents.

The AL postseason race — specifically, the wild card race — is coming down to the wire, and the Orioles could help decide which, if any, of their AL East opponents make it to the playoffs. Their remaining schedule is loaded with matchups against their divisional foes. Tonight they begin a three-game series in New York against the Yankees, who are two games ahead for the top wild card spot, and the two clubs will also square off for three games in Baltimore in two weeks.

The Red Sox currently hold the second wild card spot but are trying to fend off the hard-charging Athletics and Mariners from the West division. The Orioles will play six more games against Boston, three in each ballpark. And the Blue Jays, currently 4.5 games behind Boston, are trying to hang on to the fringes of the race, too. They’ll play seven more games against the Orioles, including the final series of the year in Toronto.

Look, we know how this is probably going to play out. All three of those teams will take turns beating up on the Birds, essentially canceling each other out. The Orioles, after all, haven’t won a series against an AL East team since their season-opening three-game sweep in Boston. At this point, they can be usually be counted on as free wins for the opposition.

But hey, what if the Orioles finally decide to show a little spark, pull off a few upset victories against teams that really need them, and throw this wild card race into complete chaos? If the O’s could somehow contribute to knocking both the Yankees and Red Sox out of playoff position, it would make this 2021 season not exactly successful, but certainly more enjoyable down the stretch. What else do O’s fans really have to cheer for at this point?

Links

Yankees must sweep Orioles twice to fully control playoff fate - NY Post
See what I mean about teams counting on beating the Orioles? Anything less than total annihilation of the O’s will be considered a failure for contenders down the stretch.

Sulser’s strong year, month-by-month breakdown and more notes - Steve Melewski
Do the Orioles have something in Cole Sulser? I don’t know. He’s 31 and still a little too walk-prone. But he’s having a nice year when many other O’s relievers have imploded, so you have to give him that.

Because You Asked - The Edge of Reason - School of Roch
Roch Kubatko fields Orioles questions, including one intriguing puzzler: who will be the Most Valuable Oriole runner-up to Cedric Mullins? Is it Ryan Mountcastle? John Means? It's a little embarrassing how few good options there are.

One year after trade, Orioles prospect Terrin Vavra among most productive hitters on farm - Baltimore Sun
The Mychal Givens trade piece has quietly had a nice season at Bowie, though he missed a large chunk of it with injury. If he keeps doing this, he might have a starting second base job waiting for him with the Birds soon enough. It’s not as if anyone else has claimed it.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Four ex-Orioles were born on this day: 2010-14 lefty Troy Patton (36), 1980s utility man Rene Gonzales (61), and a pair of pitchers from the 1956 club, the late Sandy Consuegra (b. 1920, d. 2005) and Morrie Martin (b. 1922, d. 2010).

On this day in 1961, Steve Barber pitched an 11-inning shutout as the Orioles beat Cleveland, 1-0. Barber scattered five hits and struck out four, earning the win when reigning Rookie of the Year Ron Hansen ripped a walkoff RBI single in the bottom of the 11th.

In 1979, the O’s swept a doubleheader against the Blue Jays behind two great pitching performances. In the opener, Steve Stone worked 10 innings and allowed just one run, with the Birds again winning an 11-inning walkoff on an Eddie Murray RBI single. In the nightcap, Mike Flanagan worked a complete game and gave up only one run, becoming the first 20-game winner in the majors that year. He went on to finish 23-9, winning the AL Cy Young award.

And on this date in 2002, the Orioles took their 10th straight loss and nearly got no-hit by the Rangers, even though opposing starter Aaron Myette lasted just two pitches into the game. Myette was ejected after throwing two pitches up and in on leadoff man Melvin Mora, a continuation of bad blood between the two teams in Texas the previous week. Todd Van Poppel replaced him and threw two hitless innings, and then Joaquin Benoit pitched the final seven, carrying a no-hitter into the ninth until Jerry Hairston led off with a triple. Van Poppel was credited with the win and Benoit with a seven-inning save, the longest save in MLB history.