Tap-In Question: After sweep in Boston, are enigmatic Orioles finally in a playoff push? - BaltimoreBaseball.com

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Tap-In Question: After sweep in Boston, are enigmatic Orioles finally in a playoff push?

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So, you think it’s frustrating being a fan of this enigmatic Orioles team?

Try being a writer/fake bartender who is expected to analyze this squad on a fairly routine basis. I feel like a psychologist dealing with a patient with multiple personality disorder.

Except these Orioles primarily have two personality traits: They stink. And they don’t.

And, right now, they don’t. Not after sweeping the American League East leading Boston Red Sox in three games at Fenway Park. Not after getting back to .500 for the first time since Aug, 7.

Not after getting within two games of the second Wild Card and – somehow – reducing the number of teams that stand between them and the playoffs to three: the second Wild Card holders in the surprising Minnesota Twins, the Los Angeles Angels and the Seattle Mariners, who come to Camden Yards starting Monday for a three-game series.

So, this is a huge series and … with a 10-game homestand and … yawn.

We’ve witnessed this storyline before. In fact, it’s been the Orioles’ primary storyline of 2017.

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Just when you think they are done – like splitting six games at home against mediocre-to-bad clubs — the Orioles sweep the Red Sox on the road.

And just when you think things are headed in the right direction – like winning eight of 10 in late July/early August — they drop six of 10 on what was supposed to be a key West Coast jaunt.

After going 22-10 to start the season, and 15-8 in April, the Orioles finished the next three months with the following records:12-16, 12-16, 12-14. In August, however, they are 14-11.

Add it all together, and the Orioles are the picture of mediocrity at 65-65 with 32 to play. That includes 24 against teams in the AL East. The Orioles are 30-22 against their division rivals so far this season, the best among the five East clubs.

So, here’s my expert analysis: These Orioles are impossible to figure out. They win when they aren’t supposed to and struggle when they should have the advantage. They’re adverse to long winning streaks (they’ve had one, six-game run), but also have been fairly good at avoiding prolonged losing skids (they’ve dropped seven in a row once).

I guess my question today is: Do you think this is finally the start of the run that carries them into the playoffs, or it’s just another tease that will soon be followed by more losing.

My crystal ball smashed into pieces weeks ago. What says yours?

Tap-In Question: After the sweep in Boston, is this the start of a playoff push or just another temporary positive blip in a rollercoaster season?

42 Comments

42 Comments

  1. DauerPower

    August 28, 2017 at 7:33 am

    It’s an old cliche but so true, “Momentum is next day’s starting pitcher.”
    Dave Johnson talked about this on Wall 2 Wall Baseball a couple weeks ago. There is no momentum because the next day’s starter could get shelled in 1st inning. Or the reverse, you get shut down by the other teams starting pitcher.
    I’d love for us to run off a 10+ game winning streak but with all the inconsistencies with this team that seems far fetched.
    But looking around the league and all the flawed teams that the O’s have just as much chance as any of the others.
    “Why Not?”

    • Dan Connolly

      August 28, 2017 at 12:10 pm

      That’s the best point of all. Of all the teams competing for the second Wild Card — I’m not counting the Yankees — only Texas has a plus run differential. Every other team has allowed more runs than they have scored.

  2. Boog Robinson Robinson

    August 28, 2017 at 7:45 am

    Yes and No. YES, of course this is the start of a playoff push! And NO it’s not just a blip. Reminds me of ’74.

    Crush has started going to the opposite field. What about Macho’s sudden progression into adulthood with is trusty sidekick Schoop playing like an MVP? Boom Boom seems to have made an adjustment after a mini-slump. Beckham has been a gift from the baseball gods, and Jonsey …. well Jonesy is playing like he always does. And what about that Wade Miley? Reminded me of the Wade Miley we saw in April & May. (Better lucky than good ‘eh?)

    Gausman has stopped copying Ubaldo, and seems like the trick with Bundy is giving him an extra day off. We have 6 viable starters … and the pen is holding together somehow.

    It’s not football season yet!!! Positive vibes my friends, POSTITIVE VIBES ONLY at this end of the bar please!!

    Go O’s!!

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      August 28, 2017 at 10:39 am

      And as ugly as they were … maybe the team should consider wearing those uniforms for a while longer. To paraphrase Crash Davis .. “A team on a streak has to respect the streak”.

    • Dan Connolly

      August 28, 2017 at 12:10 pm

      The fact that you can go from Crush to Crash so easily shows your versatility. Drink chip.

  3. Osfan73

    August 28, 2017 at 8:30 am

    IMO yes the Os have propelled themselves yet again back into the playoff race with this 4 game win streak that includes this past weekends sweep of Boston.
    Been a combination of scoring runs, decent pitching and being adventagious-caught Boston at the right time as they have injuries to key players and came off a tough series with Cleveland. When the Os do that they can compete with anyone. It’ just that they’ve seemingly lacked the focus to keep up any consistency this year for whatever reason(s)-pitching!,up and down offense!, they tend to play up to or down to the competition all too often.
    Be interesting to see if they can keep their momentum, and if being back at home and in the playoff chase further encourages the Os to continue to do well and finish up strong. I think they will!! Go Os!!

    • Dan Connolly

      August 28, 2017 at 12:11 pm

      The whole competition thing is so interesting to me. Was it Boston’s woes or are he Orioles finally hitting their stride. Like Buck says, our curiosity will be satisfied.

  4. Orial

    August 28, 2017 at 8:50 am

    I want to say yes they are on the roll we’ve been waiting for after all the Red Sox are/were arguably the AL’s best team. BUT they are liable to lay an egg against Seattle. But hit says …….yes they are on a roll. Damn I just jinxed it.

    • Dan Connolly

      August 28, 2017 at 12:12 pm

      Hahahaha. You encapsulated 2017 perfectly. Drink chip.

  5. karks

    August 28, 2017 at 8:53 am

    Who in the world can figure this team out? This Seattle series is really large though. It’s a team they have to get past if they want to stay in the WC race.

    I’ll say yes, it’s the start of the playoff push. Because if they don’t start that push now, they’re toast.

    • Dan Connolly

      August 28, 2017 at 12:13 pm

      True. But that’s what we’ve been saying for 3 weeks. That have to seize the moment at some point, right?

  6. GSISDANNO

    August 28, 2017 at 9:04 am

    I want to be positive so I will say yes. Obviously, this is a big home stand. They need to beat up on Seattle and Toronto to put themselves in a good position for the Yankees. This may be unrealistic but the Orioles need to capture that number one wild card spot. If they are the number two wild card, they will have to go to Yankee Stadium and it will be “one and done” like last year. Sweeping the Red Sox at Fenway was quite an achievement. I am hoping that is the start of a patented Red Sox meltdown in September. It has happened before.

    • Paul Folkemer

      August 28, 2017 at 10:16 am

      If the Orioles get the second wild card, I wouldn’t assume they’re “one and done” if they go to Yankee Stadium. Anything can happen in one game.

      Remember, the Orioles went on the road and beat the Rangers in the WC game in 2012, even though the Rangers had dominated them all season long and had Darvish starting against Joe Saunders.

    • Dan Connolly

      August 28, 2017 at 12:13 pm

      I’d give Paul a drink chip but I don’t want him drinking on the job.

  7. woody

    August 28, 2017 at 9:51 am

    Its a big series, big week, big homestand. Exciting times. If we can go 5-2 this week we’re in the mix. 4-3 and we’re back to requiring a lot of teams to lose games. Sounds fickle but with so many teams pushing it takes a long time to climb the ladder. We’ve got Tillman pitching twice this week so 5-2 would be an amazing return.

    I say every year all I want is to watch meaningful baseball in September, so i’m delighted with where we are.

    • Dan Connolly

      August 28, 2017 at 12:14 pm

      If that’s the goal — and it is a fair goal — this team will meet that.

  8. ZantiGM

    August 28, 2017 at 10:48 am

    No sure way to tell BUT if we can have a 15-16 win sept/oct we should be a WC…UP TO THE STARTING PITCHING

    • Dan Connolly

      August 28, 2017 at 12:14 pm

      Haven’t had a winning month since April. Need at least one vs Seattle to change that.

  9. Os_Skins

    August 28, 2017 at 11:19 am

    The answer to the question is…Maybe? The entire second half has been week to week and seemingly each week one or two of the WC hopefuls make a run, then like that, it’s over. So I think the answer to your question depends on this coming week.

    Every week is huge from here on out. BUT, this week is particularly huge. Another 5 win week and I have to believe they will pass Seattle and Anaheim, and if they don’t catch Minn, will certainly be no worse than 1 game out. That is prime position. At that point, you could also be down to 4.5 or 3.5 behind the Yanks, with them coming to town for a big 3 game set. That’s best case scenario. My hope is that the health of the Orioles at this point in the year (JJ is the only injured bird) is a big advantage, along with the team’s history under Buck of finishing incredibly strong would lead you to believe they are actually making that push.

    On the flip side, this team has had trouble sustaining good runs, and as others here have said, it all comes down to starting pitching. Tillman tonight is scary. It’s hard to believe there isn’t a better more dependable option for tonight. Realistically looking at the Ms series, the hope is that Bundy does his thing, and that the Orioles are able to steal one of either the Tillman or Ubaldo start…but then you look and see the Mariners are in an equally bad position with SPs. If the Os lose 2/3 and then split 4 with the Jays…Well then you are treading water and losing time.

    Most likely scenario – this team goes 4-3 this week, maybe picks up a game in the wild card, maybe loses a game, and next week brings the Yanks and Tribe.

    • Dan Connolly

      August 28, 2017 at 12:16 pm

      Come on Skins, we don’t do maybe around these parts. :). Otherwise nice thoughts. Drink chip.

  10. Creatively_19

    August 28, 2017 at 11:31 am

    I don’t honestly know if the O’s are in it or not, but heck, if they can sweep Boston, they have a fighting chance. Enough so that I finally put my money down to reserve my Post-Season Tix.

    • Dan Connolly

      August 28, 2017 at 12:17 pm

      Certainly didn’t think that phrase would be uttered in August. Post-season tickets.

      • Creatively_19

        August 28, 2017 at 1:33 pm

        The O’s are the ones sending out the invoices, I just blindly hand them my money like the fan that I am.

  11. Bancells Moustache

    August 28, 2017 at 11:35 am

    If they marched through Sale and Price I’d be a little more impressed. Beating Porcello, Fister and Eddie Rodriguez doesn’t exactly shake the Earth. Not that it wasn’t impressive, but we’ve seen this team come out guns blazing before, and seen them slip back to mediocrity just as often. Not buying it. Break out the brooms against Seattle and make it 7 straight, I may start to believe. But I doubt it.

    • Os_Skins

      August 28, 2017 at 11:40 am

      Totally agree with the sentiment, to an extent. I said to a co-worker of mine last week who is a big Sox fan…The good news is the Orioles are avoiding Sale and Pomeranz, the bad news is they have to use their own starters. While I agree they avoided the Red Sox best pitchers, it’s not like Wade and Jeremy have lit the world on fire this year. Second-half Gaus is a different story. The Red Sox didn’t have to face Dylan, and instead got three pitchers who entered the game with ERAs above 5.

    • Dan Connolly

      August 28, 2017 at 12:17 pm

      Agreed. Boston was not Boston for several reasons this weekend. Still, you take those Ws.

  12. Ezrine Tire Award

    August 28, 2017 at 11:38 am

    I think the Twins and Mariners fold like a pair of your old boxers Danny boy. The Angels will be tough. We pull it out due to our strength of play against the AL East this year. From the Land of Pleasant Living here’s a frothy National Premium to the second Wild Card.

    • Dan Connolly

      August 28, 2017 at 12:18 pm

      Like your enthusiasm. The best thing the Orioles have going for them is no one else in the race is particularly good either. Drink chip.

  13. JParsley

    August 28, 2017 at 12:08 pm

    who knows? this team drives me crazy!

    • Dan Connolly

      August 28, 2017 at 12:19 pm

      Yep. Come tell the barkeep about it. And bring your wallet.

  14. 5brooks5

    August 28, 2017 at 1:47 pm

    To the Muse of Baltimore….. Baseball;
    Who knows? This season has been so frustrating, in so many ways! My gut says that they stay close but ultimately come up short.I guess that is why I both love and hate the second wild-card, it rewards mediocrity, and that is what all of these teams are, so-so at best,but we are still involved and still watching, so I guess that’s a good thing.

    • Dan Connolly

      August 29, 2017 at 12:46 am

      And still coming here. Definitely a good thing.

  15. Mustang21

    August 28, 2017 at 4:03 pm

    We play well at home and versus the east, so let’s say we have a good homestand. It’s the following road trip that scares me a bit. The Indians, Blue Jays, and Yankees are tough. August has always seemed to be a tough month, but since Buck has been around we finish strong in September. The starters have to step up. This team has had to come to bat being down in the first inning way too many times.

    • Dan Connolly

      August 29, 2017 at 12:47 am

      Buck with an extended bullpen and bench in September doesn’t hurt.

  16. JustWin8

    August 28, 2017 at 7:04 pm

    Ubaldo and Miley have to pitch at least .500 the rest of the way, with Bundy and Gausman dominating. Then maybe.

    • Dan Connolly

      August 29, 2017 at 12:48 am

      Starting pitching.

  17. Ben1

    August 28, 2017 at 7:40 pm

    just hope they arent teasing. Go Orioles

    • Dan Connolly

      August 29, 2017 at 12:49 am

      We’ll find out soon enough I suppose.

  18. Eldersburg Enigma

    August 28, 2017 at 8:34 pm

    I went to Fenway for the first time ever this past weekend and took my son. Let me be clear: those were ugly wins. Seriously, the hats and sleeves were hideous. This team is consistent in its inconsistency. They will struggle at home this week.

    • Dan Connolly

      August 29, 2017 at 12:49 am

      That’s the thing. Maybe they just caught Boston at the right time. Who knows?

  19. bigdaddydk

    August 29, 2017 at 8:40 am

    Someone gets hot at the end to take the wild card spot. Here’s why I think that team can be the O’s.

    The staff ERA is under 4.00 for August and trending the right way. Britton is back and, although not looking like vintage Britton is still a weapon. That allows Givens, Brach, and O’Day to return to their customary spots. Castro continues to give quality innings and Bleier is solid. Pitching is coming around. Not perfect, but better. And we won a Tillman start which, while shaky, was better than some previous outings. And his ERA is below 10!!!

    Beckham has been a spark plug giving speed at the top of the order, and allowing AJ to move to a more natural position in the order. Manny is raking, even when he gets out. That line drive he hit last night that was caught by Segura/Seager (can’t remember which) was absolutely smoked. Schoop and Mancini appear immune to prolonged slumps. Davis is hitting to all fields. Trumbo is having some decent games, Castillo’s bat and his arm are both golden right now. And Gentry is getting hits (up around .250 now!!!)

    Now, here’s the real reason why I think we can get in. We play the Yankees 7 more times, which means we can gain ground on them. And seriously, who wouldn’t prefer to knock the Yankees out instead of Minnesota? We play Toronto 7 more times and we’re absolutely crushing them this year. We play TB 7 more times and we’re trending up while they’re fading. We play Boston 3 more at home and we’ve not lost a series to them yet. The only series that concerns me is the three at Cleveland because we don’t play them well. But I can honestly look at this remaining schedule and see taking 1 of 2 from Seattle (a sweep would be awesome, and Bundy is on the hill tonight), 5 of 7 from Toronto, 1 of 3 from Cleveland, 4 of 7 from the Yankees, 5 of 7 from TB, 2 of 3 from Boston, and a split or 2-game sweep of Pittsburgh. That would be 19-12 or 20-11 to finish out. That would also mean 3 games gained on the Yankees in head-to-head.

    I may be a bit over-optimistic, but I think I see a team starting to click at the right time. They showed signs on the West Coast trip, but then sputtered. However, I think the fuel lines are clean and we’re getting good spark. So, I’m going out on a limb and saying that the O’s will get in.

  20. John in Cincy

    August 29, 2017 at 3:44 pm

    I’m bullish on the Orioles. Sure, they caught Boston at the right time, but it’s one thing to play a team that’s down, and another having a team that’s good enough to exploit the situation. What struck me most was how much more dangerous a lineup the O’s had–as the teams stood at the end of the series, the Orioles had six players with 20 or more homers this season, while Red Sox had none.

    Still, we’re taking about playing a first place team at Fenway, so the series sweep seems legit, even with the “team that’s down” caveat. The Orioles have a month or so to prove that it was no fluke, and their gritty 7-6 win over Seattle last night was a good sign.

    Why I am optimistic about the club’s chances is based largely on the acquisition of Tim Beckham. Pre-Beckham the offense was okay in a middle-of-the-pack sort of way, but certainly not potent enough in practice to make up for the rotation limitations. Ruben Tejada was serviceable enough: a decent defender who came through with a few big hits, usually of the bloop single variety, but clearly a nine-hole hitter who provided breathing room for opposing pitchers (at one point Johnny Giavotella was brought up briefly to added a little more punch to the lineup, despite being strictly a second baseman, which showed the team wasn’t sold on Tejada). The pre-Beckham Orioles had a sputtering offense, and was a team that was going nowhere in the playoff hunt.

    But all of that changed on July 31, when the O’s made a trade with Tampa Bay, getting Beckham in exchange for a promising, but very young right-hander, Tobias Myers. Suddenly, the Orioles had a shortstop who went from being a bottom of the order, banjo hitter to a speedy leadoff man who has done nothing but hit with authority since joining the team, and whose hits as often as not are for extra bases. Beckham in the lineup has brought about a major rejuvenating effect on the offense, allowing Buck to move Adam Jones into a more productive role as the cleanup hitter, but much more than that, Tim’s consistent contributions have taken a great deal of pressure off the rest of the lineup , and now they’re coming up to the plate much more relaxed, not trying to do too much (see Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo in particular).

    In fact, since the trade, the Orioles are arguably the most potent offense in the AL. certainly one of them. I’ll go on record to say that should the club make it to the playoffs, Dan Duquette should again get serious consideration for executive of the year honors, because the Beckham trade was a real coup, because the O’s don’t make it to postseason without that deal that redefined who they are.

    One last point about something brought up already, the “you’re only as good as your starting pitching” and “momentum is dictated by tomorrow’s starters” arguments. Now, I don’t dispute the wisdom contained in them as they’re baseball truisms, but they’re limited in their application. It’s not “all about starting pitching”, though a good deal of a game’s outlook is so defined. Last night the O’s had an abysmal start, but still prevailed.

    It takes a good offense to overcome a poor start, and it’s the teams that have enough firepower to win some of those games that can reach the playoffs. It just can’t happen all of the time. I believe that the rotation is going to stabilize, and if it does so, with their offense, defense and bullpen (good to see Zach Britton looking like himself last night), the Orioles should get cruise comfortably into the playoffs.

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