clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Saturday Bird Droppings: The O’s AL East lead is gone

An unfortunate skid, Flaherty struggles again, and Jones will always be an Oriole.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Baltimore Orioles Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Birdland!

This series against the Rays has not gone how we would like. The Orioles have now lost the first two in a four-game set following Friday’s disastrous 7-1 defeat. It was a game with virtually no positives apart from Heston Kjerstad’s first big league homer. Even worse, the O’s lead in the AL East—which they had held since July 22—is gone. These two teams are now tied atop the division.

Here’s the rosy version of things. The Orioles have played two fewer games than the Rays this season, so they still have one fewer loss than them. If the O’s were to win those two extra games, they would lead the division by a game and there’s nothing the Rays can do about it.

The other thing to note is head-to-head tiebreakers. Saturday and Sunday will be the final two times these teams play one another in the regular season. As it stands, the Orioles have the advantage 6-to-5, meaning they only need to win one of the two games left in this series to clinch that tiebreaker. If they do that, it essentially gives them an additional half-game in the standings. That would come in handy if the clubs finish with identical records.

Of course, both of those things could go the other way and completely bury the Orioles chances of a division title. But given how good this team has been all season long, I like the odds when you put them in control of their own destiny.


‘Forever grateful’ Jones officially retires as an Oriole |
Hopefully this season has been the start of the Orioles getting Adam Jones more involved in the organization. He will certainly be inducted into the team Hall of Fame in short order, and his personality is made for some sort of public-facing role if he is interested.

The Orioles acquired Jack Flaherty for games like Friday’s. He failed to deliver. | The Baltimore Sun
Jack Flaherty was far from the only problem on Friday, but he certainly wasn’t good. His entire Orioles’ stint has been poor, and it’s getting to the point where you have to wonder if it’s worth putting him on the mound at all.

Westburg happy to step aside for Kjerstad | Roch Kubatko
The way in which the Orioles have juggled the lineup this season does feel unique to such a young team. I can’t think of many established veterans that would be OK with regularly getting removed in the sixth inning, or starting the day on the bench so often. But many of the team’s better players have had to do it this year. But the platoon approach won’t be permanent for all of them. We saw with Gunnar Henderson early this year that players can prove their ability against same-sided hurlers.

Orioles birthdays

Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!

  • Paul Shuey turns 53. He appeared in 25 games out of the Orioles bullpen in 2007. Although his numbers weren’t good that season, it was an impressive accomplishment considering the then-36-year-old had originally retired during the 2005 season due to hip pain.
  • Mark Parent is 62 today. The journeyman catcher had two stints in Baltimore, first from 1992 through ‘93, and then again in 1996.
  • Mickey Tettleton celebrates his 63rd. He was the O’s catcher most days from 1988 through 1990. He made the all-star team as an Oriole in ‘89.
  • Tim Raines Sr. is 64 today. Near the end of his Hall-of-Fame career he played in four games for the 2001 Orioles, enabling him to play alongside his son, Tim Jr.

This day in O’s history

1985 - The O’s hit six home runs, including three straight from Cal Ripken Jr., Eddie Murray, and Fred Lynn in the eighth inning, to beat the Tigers 14-7.

1997 - Jimmy Key snaps his run of nine starts at Camden Yards without a win as Baltimore beats Cleveland 7-2.

2000 - Soft-tossing lefty Jamie Moyer beats the Orioles for the 11th straight time, dating back to early 1996.

2012 - For the first time since 1997 the Orioles are assured a winning record, beating the A’s 9-5 for their 82nd win of the season.

2014 - The Orioles clinch the AL East for the first time since 1997 after beating the Blue Jays 8-2.