Two cities down and one to go on this crucial 10-game road trip out west and the Orioles are, well, mediocre.
Get out the magic marker and color yourself surprised.
After losing two of three in Anaheim, Calif., the Orioles split four games with the Oakland Athletics and are now 58-60 heading into a three-game series beginning Monday night at Safeco Field in Seattle.
The Orioles need to sweep the Mariners – who swept the Orioles in four games last season in Seattle – to come back to Camden Yards with a record above .500 on the year.
Even if they win two of three against the stumbling Mariners, the Orioles will still be a game under .500 with 41 to play. And to get to 89 wins – the number it took for the second AL Wild Card spot in 2016 – the Orioles must go 31-13 in their final 44 games – that’s .705 baseball, which the Los Angeles Dodgers have been playing in their potentially historic season.
I know I get branded as negative at times, but the Orioles aren’t playing .700 baseball during the next six weeks. I’ll go on that sturdy limb without hesitation. Even their hot 22-10 start was .688 baseball, and that seems like forever ago.
If you want good news, though, I suppose I can provide a little.
Right now, the Los Angeles Angels, who hold the second Wild Card, are 61-58 (.513 winning percentage). That’s on pace for about 83 wins. If the Orioles got just a little bit hot, 83 is more than reachable (25-19). And they could help bring the Angels back to reality this upcoming weekend at Camden Yards, where the Orioles are 35-23 (.604 winning percentage).
Also, the Orioles are 5-5 in their last 10, and actually gained ground on three teams ahead of them, the Kansas City Royals, Mariners and Tampa Bay Rays.
That’s pretty hard to do, and what it illustrates is just how mediocre most of these Wild Card “contenders” are. All it takes is for one team to go on a winning streak, and, next thing you know, they are in the driver’s seat.
That’s currently the Angels, who have won five straight – the final two versus the Orioles and a sweep of the Mariners – and have claimed the second Wild Card spot.
The Minnesota Twins traded away their closer, Brandon Kintzler, and solid starter Jaime Garcia at the end of July, and have won eight of their last 10 to be a half game behind the Angels.
So, if you want this glass half-full, the Orioles are still in contention for a playoff spot despite a lackluster West Coast jaunt so far. And none of the teams ahead of them is particularly good.
If you want this glass half-empty, the Orioles are an abysmal 23-37 on the road, and their most optimistic playoff hopes are to get a one-game playoff reprieve away from Camden Yards.
The straight truth is that this entire race is watered down. And the Orioles, like everyone, are, you guessed it, treading water.
It’s disappointing that the Orioles likely return to Baltimore with a sub-.500 record Friday. But, let’s face it, it’s also not shocking.
What’s actually surprising, though, is that the Orioles could have a sub-.500 record Friday and be in roughly the same spot as when they left for the West Coast.