The Baltimore Orioles started watching the scoreboard
The Orioles care about how other teams play for the first time in a long time.
You may or may not have noticed it, but Orioles fans aren’t the only ones thinking about a playoff run. In the most recent series, where the Orioles swept the Texas Rangers, MASN broadcasts showed more out-of-town scoring. Instead of just posting AL East scores, there were six to eight games listed every night.
Why would Birdland care about a White Sox-Royals snooze fest or a botched Guardians-Diamondbacks game? Because two of those teams are battling with the Orioles for a wildcard spot, of course. Entering Sunday’s roster, the Orioles are just one game out of the playoffs, one game ahead of Cleveland and two games ahead of the South Siders.
Those AL East scores are certainly relevant as well, as the Red Sox have four comeback games, while the Rays and Blue Jays currently hold two of the wildcard slots, while the Seattle Mariners hold the third. The Yankees are hardly in the same league as the O’s as they all but finished the division with a 10.5 game lead at the start of August.
Unlike their rivals, the Orioles still have very low playoff odds, but it’s remarkable that they actually have any after 100 games. The Major League side have been competitive for much of the season, and they are still winning despite swapping fan favorites Trey Mancini and Jorge Lopez.
Being in the thick of the playoff race is extremely unfamiliar for the Orioles, as the team has finished well below .500 in each of the past four seasons. As you’ve probably heard, the last time the Birds played baseball in a meaningful way after the trade deadline was in 2017, when Tim Beckham had a tear, and the team finished anyway. with a losing record.
If the Orioles manage to jump into a playoff spot, they will be wandering into uncharted territory. With two more teams making the playoffs, Baltimore would play a short three-game series against another wild card recipient or the winner of the weaker division. The last decade’s competitive window has seen the Birds play twice in the do-or-die wild card game, with one win and one loss. They will have to plan differently this time around by setting up three starting pitchers.
While the Orioles have the toughest schedule in MLB this season, they are currently enjoying weak opponents. They have won five in a row against Rangers and Pirates, while most competitors have tougher matchups or haven’t enjoyed it. The Blue Jays and Rays were battling each other during the weak, while the Guardians ran into the Astros’ buzzsaw. The Mariners, White Sox and Red Sox are each struggling to win playoffs against losing teams.
Whether the Orioles play baseball in October or not, this season has already been a smash hit. We may be looking at the rest of the scoreboard, but playing competitive games is already a phenomenal achievement for the rebuild.