This is crunch time now.
The Orioles begin their final homestand of the season Thursday night with the first of four games against a division foe, the Tampa Bay Rays. Then the big boys come to town, the division-leading Boston Red Sox for four followed by – strangely – the Arizona Diamondbacks for three inter-league games to end the season slate of home contests.
Three at Toronto and three more at Yankee Stadium, and then the 2016 regular season will come to a close. The big question remaining is will the Orioles continue to play after the Oct. 2 season finale in the Bronx?
My crystal ball is broken.
So, in this week’s “Around The Beat” podcast, I asked that question of Tim Brown, national baseball writer for Yahoo Sports. He’s not getting a particularly clear read either.
That’s what makes this month so much fun for baseball fans.
Brown discusses the Orioles’ chances to make the postseason – he’s still not thrilled about the club’s starting rotation – and how they’ll likely be duking it out with the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Yankees and others in the next two-plus weeks.
Brown has an AL Cy Young Award vote this year, and he delves into Orioles’ closer Zach Britton’s case to win the award. Brown hasn’t made up his mind yet, but said this could be one of those rare years when no obvious starting rotation candidate leads the pack. And that could open the door for Britton.
Since Brown covered Los Angeles Dodgers closer Eric Gagne in 2003, I asked him to compare those two Cy-Young-worthy campaigns – and he had a pretty interesting response.
Brown also analyzes the AL MVP race and where he thinks Manny Machado fits into that conversation. I also push Brown for a World Series pick – and, let’s just say, his two candidates would be going to the October Classic for the first time in our lifetimes. And we’re old guys.
Give it a listen.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB