The Orioles have lost 2 of their past 3 games which of course means that unnecessary panic is setting in amongst the fans. Take a step back from the ledge and relax. Everything is still okay.
The Orioles currently sit at 88 wins with 8 games left to play. Realistically, I think we could conservatively peg the worst case scenario at 2-6, base case at 4-4, and best case at 6-2. Again, that’s being conservative. It could be argued that the way the team has played for the past two months should lead us to believe that the worst and base case might be slightly better than that, but it is always better to look at these things through a more conservative viewpoint. Those scenarios would put the O’s at 90, 92, and 94 wins, respectively.
In the worst case scenario, the Rays would have to 7-2 over their final nine to tie the Orioles at 90 wins. For the Angels, it would be 6-3. In other words, the Orioles would have to play very bad over the final 8 and the Rays and/or Angels would have to play good to very good baseball to even force a tie. Not to mention that Oakland would have to play well, too, to grab the top wild card spot away from the Orioles and force the Orioles into a wild card tie breaker game with either the Rays or Angels. Speaking of the A’s, they would have to go 4-5 to tie the Orioles for the top AL wild card spot under the “worse case/90 win” scenario. Given their remaining schedule, that is far easier said than done.
If the Orioles perform above the worst case scenario, their odds get even better. If the Orioles win 92 games by going 4-4 down the stretch, the Rays will be virtually finished as serious challengers to the Orioles’ wild card hopes. They would have to go 9-0 in order to force a tie with the O’s under that scenario. The Angels wouldn’t be in a much better position – they would have to 8-1 to tie the O’s. Oakland would have to 6-3 in nine games against the Rangers and Mariners to tie for the top wild card spot. I won’t bother with the best case scenario because I think the effects of that are pretty clear – the Orioles would clinch a wild card spot under that scenario and in all likelihood, stay ahead of the A’s for the top wild card spot as well.
This is all a way of saying – relax. The Orioles blew nothing on Sunday or in the second game on Monday. That is, of course, unless you are convinced the Rays will sweep the Orioles in Tampa the final series of the season. For reasons I cannot wrap my head around, there are people who are convinced that is the most likely scenario. While it could happen given the Rays pitching, the Orioles have fared much better than that against the Rays all season so those fears appear to be the result of at least some paranoia. It could happen, but to say it is likely to happen is getting awfully close to irrational pessimism.
The Orioles can play poorly over the final 8 games and it will still take at least one other team playing very well to overtake them. If they play decent baseball over the next 9 days, then teams will have to play very, very well to force a tie. All of us would have loved for the Orioles to have won on Sunday and last night to virtually lock up a wild card spot and stay closer to the Yankees in the AL East. That would have given the team – and fans – some much welcomed breathing room. That’s all it would have been though is breathing room. At the end of the day, the Orioles still sit in a very good position and still control their own destiny. What more could you ask for?
(The answer is “winning the AL East”. I would love to win the AL East but when did everyone get so greedy? A wild card spot is still a chance. The top wild card spot is even better. It would be nice to celebrate whatever comes the Orioles’ way by next week instead of griping if they fail to catch the Yankees in the AL East.)