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Friday Bird Droppings: A winning Orioles season is suddenly in jeopardy

The O’s blew three straight chances to reach the .500 mark against last-place Boston, and now have to try their luck against two playoff-bound teams.

Baltimore Orioles v Boston Red Sox
The dark shadows are starting to overtake this otherwise bright Orioles season.
Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

The wait for a .500 season — let alone a winning one — continues for another day.

After their blowout victory in Boston on Monday, the O’s wasted three straight chances to clinch a non-losing season, dropping a trio of games to the last-place Red Sox — including a 5-3 defeat yesterday afternoon — to remain frustratingly stuck on 80 wins.

Suddenly, the O’s are running out of time to reach the 81- and 82-win marks, and they don’t have any more patsy opponents to play.

Only six games remain in the Orioles’ season. They start tonight with a three-game set in the Bronx, where Yankee fans will be juiced to welcome home their conquering hero, Aaron Judge, after he reached the 61-home run mark in Toronto on Wednesday. You can bet the atmosphere will be electric as Judge attempts to set the American League home run record with #62. Beyond that, the division-winning Yankees have gotten back on a roll, winning nine of their last 10 games, after their near-meltdown in August. Winning even one game won’t be easy for the Birds.

Then it’s back home to Baltimore for a season-ending three-game series with the Blue Jays, who have punched their ticket to the postseason thanks to the Orioles’ loss yesterday. The odds favor the O’s winning at least one of those games, but they’ve had their troubles with Toronto of late, losing five of the last seven. The Blue Jays might still be fighting hard, angling for the top wild card spot to assure home field advantage in the first round.

Let’s hope the Orioles will be fighting hard, too. Even though a postseason appearance isn’t in the cards, a winning season — for a club that hasn’t had one in six years — is still something significant to play for.


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Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Five former Orioles were born on this day, including the late Hall of Famer Robin Roberts (b. 1926, d. 2010). Best known for his stellar 14 years with the Phillies, the right-hander spent parts of four seasons in Baltimore from 1962-65, winning 42 games. Other ex-Orioles celebrating Sept. 30 birthdays are outfielders Seth Smith (40) and Curtis Goodwin (50), lefty Yorkis Perez (55), and righty John DeSilva (55).

On this fateful day in 1989, the “Why Not?” Orioles saw their playoff hopes officially die in the final series of the season. Entering the game in Toronto two games back of the division-leading Blue Jays, the O’s had to send emergency starter Dave Johnson to the mound after scheduled hurler Pete Harnisch stepped on a nail. Johnson pitched heroically — seven innings, two runs — but the Orioles blew a 3-1 lead in the eighth and lost, 4-3, clinching the division for the Jays.

On this date in 2000, Hall of Famer Mike Mussina pitched the final game of his Orioles career, working 6.1 strong innings in defeating the Yankees, 9-1, in Baltimore. Mussina’s next start would come as a Yankee; he signed a six-year, $88.5 million in New York that winter. Mussina finished his O’s career with 147 wins and a 3.53 ERA, and his 46.7 WAR was the second-best for an Orioles pitcher in franchise history.

And this was a celebratory day for the Orioles in 2012, when they clinched a spot in the postseason for the first time in 15 years. In front of a lively Camden Yards crowd of 41,257, the O’s cruised to a 6-3 win over the Red Sox, with homers by Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy, and Nate McLouth backing a quality start by Joe Saunders. After the game, the Orioles stuck around on the field to watch a Jumbotron broadcast of the Angels, whose loss would clinch an O’s playoff berth, but an Angels ninth-inning comeback denied the Birds the chance to celebrate with their home fans. (I was there. What a bummer.) During the Orioles’ flight to Tampa Bay, though, the Angels lost the second game of their doubleheader, allowing the Birds to celebrate their clincher on the plane.