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Thursday Bird Droppings: The Orioles magic number for the AL East is down to 20

After taking care of business against the Angels, the O’s lead in the East stands at 3.5 games on today’s off day

Baltimore Orioles Archive
It’s Frank Robinson to go to clinch the AL East.
Photo by Peyton Stoike/Baltimore Orioles/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Hello, friends.

It’s been a week of late nights for any east coast Orioles fans who’ve stayed up for their series against the Angels, but we must admit that they’ve made it worth it overall. On Wednesday night they finally played the comfortable one we’ve all been hoping for, finishing off the sweep of the Angels by a 10-3 margin. They needed to take care of business against the rapidly fading Angels and that’s exactly what they did.

The 12-hit effort by the Orioles offense included four hits by Austin Hays and three by Anthony Santander. These two guys escalated the game well into blowout territory with back-to-back jacks in the eighth inning that plated three Orioles runs, turning a 7-3 lead into the 10-3 final score. Kyle Gibson was good enough and a trio of O’s relievers kept the Angels off the board after Gibson left the game.

The win was the 88th of the season for the Orioles, moving them to a nearly unbelievable 37 games over .500 here in 2023. They have now won more regular season games than every Orioles team starting after their last World Series title except for these: 1992, 1997, 2012, 2014, 2016. With one more win they will have equaled 1992 and 2016.

They are on pace to win 103 games. That is not a joke. If they reached that total they would exceed every team in Orioles history except for 1969 and 1970. I still don’t believe this will happen, mostly because it’s beyond my imagination, but the season is now 86% of the way over and the pace remains the pace.

It is probable that the Orioles will need every win they can get to hold off the Rays in the AL East. The Rays were also victorious on Wednesday night, so for now the O’s lead in the division holds at 3.5 games. Wednesday’s win by the O’s did reduce the magic number to clinch the division by one, so it’s now down to 20.

If the current positions in the standings hold to the end of the regular season, the Orioles would have a bye through the wild card round by virtue of winning a division and having one of the two best records in the AL. They would wait in the American League Division Series for the winner of a best-of-three between the Rays and Mariners. The winner of a Twins-Jays best-of-three would play the Astros.

This picture has changed in recent days. The Mariners ascended with a scorching August and the Rangers have fallen off, allowing the Jays back into a postseason spot. These three teams are separated by two games in the standings, and the Astros are only one game ahead of the Mariners for the AL West lead, so there could be a lot of shifting in the season’s final weeks. The Orioles, of course, must do their own part to stay where they are by continuing to lead the AL East.

One game will impact all of this today while the Orioles are idle as they get themselves to Boston. The Mariners will be at the Trop to play the Rays starting at 6:40. Pitching for the Seattle is Luis Castillo, with the Rays turning to Zack Littell. In the 2023 season, Castillo has pitched to a 3.19 ERA, with Littell at 4.69 - 4.48 since joining the Rays.

If Seattle can pull off a victory, the Orioles would have a four game lead in the division and a magic number of 19 with 23 games left on their schedule. If the Rays win, it’ll be a three game Orioles lead as the O’s play the Red Sox and the Rays continue against the Mariners this weekend.

Around the blogO’sphere

Bruce Springsteen postpones all September concerts, including Saturday’s at Baltimore’s Camden Yards (The Baltimore Sun)
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer announced that he’s being treated for peptic ulcer disease and can’t perform for this month. Wishes for a speedy recovery to Springsteen. I suspect no one’s more broken up about this than John Angelos.

O’s alter rotation looking towards Means’ return and the stretch run (Steve Melewski)
As of last night, the Orioles announced a starting rotation lined up back as a five-man unit. Manager Brandon Hyde acknowledged that getting specific pitchers lined up for the coming Rays series is part of his consideration.

Inside how the Orioles’ minor league pitching program is developing major league arms (The Baltimore Banner)
It’s not hard to be pleased with some of the minor league results this year, but I’ll be more pleased once the minor league pitching program can credit more MLB success than just the second half of Grayson Rodriguez’s 2023 season.

Many worthy candidates for Most Valuable Oriole (Baltimore Baseball)
The only first place choice that’s supported by what’s happened in 2023 is Gunnar Henderson, but the history of MVO voting is usually that some people always manage to sidestep the obvious. Rich Dubroff runs through some other candidates.

The Kids Are Alright: This Year’s Rookie Class Has Been Historically Great (FanGraphs)
Speaking of Henderson, this article isn’t ENTIRELY about him, but he’s definitely a big part of this narrative.

Birthdays and Orioles anniversaries

Today in 2018, the Orioles lost their 100th game of the season. They were trashed by the Rays, 14-2. All of Dylan Bundy, Sean Gilmartin, Ryan Meisinger, and Luis Ortiz stunk in the game. The only 2023 Oriole in the box score was Cedric Mullins. At this time this year, there are two teams with 97 losses - the Athletics and Royals.

There are several former Orioles who were born on this day. They are: 2004-06 outfielder David Newhan, 2000 three-game catcher Willie Morales, 1988 third baseman/outfielder Wade Rowdon, 1984 four-game catcher Orlando Sánchez, and 1972 three-game infielder Tommy Matchick. Matchick passed away last year at age 78.

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday to you! Your birthday buddies for today include: Medal of Honor recipient and longtime senator Daniel Inouye (1924), musician Buddy Holly (1936), musician LeRoi Moore (1961), actress Leslie Jones (1967), and actress Evan Rachel Wood (1987).

On this day in history...

In 1228, the forces of the Sixth Crusade led by Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II landed in Acre. This led to the restoration of the Kingdom of Jerusalem within about a year.

In 1630, the city of Boston was founded.

In 1812, during the campaign of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia, the French and Russians fought the Battle of Borodino, recognized as the bloodiest battle of the entire Napoleonic Wars with potentially more than 80,000 casualties between the two sides. The French captured Moscow after the battle, but winter was coming.

In 1940, Nazi Germany began the Blitz air campaign against London and other British cities, the first of 50 nights of bombing. The campaign was ultimately unsuccessful in bombing the country into surrender.


And that’s the way it is in Birdland on September 7. Have a safe Thursday.