By and large, I’m a believer. The Orioles are a legitimate wild card contender and a potential playoff team. Adam Jones is an elite center fielder in baseball, and Wei-Yin Chen can lead the O’s rotation. Buck Showalter is one of the best managers in all of baseball.
In the next six weeks, I don’t expect the O’s to fade. This isn’t 2002 or 2003, where the Orioles finished 10-15 games below .500 in September. A 7-20 isn’t in the cards this year.
Last night’s loss was frustrating. The Orioles had the Red Sox by the throat. Up 3-1, they were threatening to increase the lead in the bottom of the second inning. Unfortunately, Nick Markakis’s attempt at a bunt turned into a double play. Then, Omar Quintanilla was tagged out trying to score on a J.J. Hardy single. Ultimately, the Red Sox were able to escape the inning and came back to beat the Orioles, 6-3.
I don’t think last night’s letdown has long-term ramifications. The Orioles went 7-3 on a 10-game home stand, and they now head on a 6-game road trip. First, the O’s go to Comerica Park to face the Tigers for a three-game series, and then, the Orioles head to Texas for a three-game set against the Rangers.
Still, if the collapse is going to happen, this road trip could be it. The Orioles need to finish, at the worst, 3-3 in their next six games. Both the Tigers and Rangers are tough, and some of the pitching match ups appear daunting. The Orioles, for instance, face Justin Verlander tonight.
September baseball needs to be relevant in Baltimore once again. Attendance numbers have struggled not only because most fans want to spurn Angelos but also because most fans are skeptical about the Orioles’ playoff hopes. However, a solid finish on this road trip would go a long way in cementing the O’s chances in the wild card race.