Big stretch coming up for O’s…or is it?

June 24, 2011 | Peter Dilutis

About a week ago, I wrote a piece in which I wondered how long the Orioles could stay relevant.

They were five games below .500 at the time, and now they are six below. Only a one game difference…not so bad.

However, this upcoming stretch against the Reds, Cardinals, and Braves looks to be brutal. Nine consecutive games against legitimate National League contenders are on the horizon.

Brian Roberts is out. Guthrie is coming off a very poor outing. Matusz isn’t close to being in gear yet, and his health is still a huge question mark.

This season could spiral out of control in a hurry. It’s one thing to be a homestand away from getting back to .500. It is another to fall 10, 11, 12 below .500. At that point, the Birds would lose all relevance in this town.

But the question needs to be asked…are they really relevant now?

A week ago, I thought they were. I really did. Maybe I’m a glass half-full guy, but I feel like there is talent on this Orioles team. I like some of the pieces. In my eyes, some of them are winning pieces.

I was convinced that this team was a good week to 10 days of winning away from getting back in the race.

I believed that the 2011 Birds were still relevant. When I decided to write about the Orioles tonight, I really felt this upcoming stretch was critical. Either the wheels were going to come off or they weren’t. I was betting on the “were going to come off” option.

But seriously, do people even care anymore?

Is anyone else out there even rooting for the Orioles to go on a 6-10 game win streak to get back into the thick of the AL East?

Are there still people in this town living and dying with the O’s?

Would winning six in a row or seven out of nine against the National League really do anything for the fans? Would fans swarm back to Camden Yards on July 14th against Cleveland if the O’s are sitting within two games of .500 in either direction?

This isn’t a “trash the Orioles” piece. Anyone who has read my writing over the years can attest to me being a pretty consistent optimist regarding Andy MacPhail and the Orioles. Ask Drew, he’ll tell you.

I really just want to know if it even matters anymore. Do people still care, or have the O’s lost their fans the same way managers sometimes lose their respective clubhouses?

People still go to the games. There might even be 75k out there against the Cardinals next week.