If you have paid attention to Orioles baseball over the past, say, couple decades or so, you know that the club never plays well at Rogers Centre – aka the Skydome – in Toronto.
Since the 2000 season began, the Orioles are 56-97 (.367 winning percentage) in Toronto. In their last 10 full seasons – not including this year – the Orioles have just one winning record north of the border (5-4 in 2010) and were 29-63 (.315) there heading into this season.
And it’s been more of the same this year; the Orioles are 2-5 in their first seven contests at Rogers Centre.
But here’s what we know also about these Orioles: They usually do the opposite of what you expect them to do. No one saw the season starting out 7-0 or the Orioles having three separate seven-game winning streaks. Or being in first for 111 days.
And then, once they established themselves as a legitimate contender this year, they reverted to that team that everyone had questions about at the beginning of 2016. After a 51-36 first half, they are 34-35 in the second half.
But none of that matters now. The Orioles have a six-game season ahead of them. They win them all, they are absolutely, positively in the playoffs. They win four of six they are almost certainly in. They go 3-3 or worse (in Toronto and New York), and it gets dicey.
And that brings us back to their personal chamber of horrors, Rogers Centre, where the Orioles play their next three games against the Blue Jays, whom they are directly behind for the first AL Wild Card spot.
My sense is that this is going to be a tremendously tense series between two teams that don’t love each other. And, because of the home-field advantage, the Blue Jays have the edge.
I wanted a real expert, though. So in today’s podcast I talk with Sportsnet’s baseball columnist Shi Davidi, who recently authored the book “The Big 50: Toronto Blue Jays.”
Davidi gives us his take on the upcoming series, on what it means to these Blue Jays and their fervent – and loud — fan base. With a lot of important pending free agents, this Blue Jays team isn’t just looking for a second consecutive playoff bid. It needs to get to the World Series for 2016 to be a success. The Jays haven’t been there since 1993 (10 years more recently than the Orioles).
So make no mistake, this one is big. And Davidi helps break it down for us. Check it out.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB