No, that one ugly game didn’t knock them out of contention, but it did assure that they won’t be picking up much ground on the Red Sox during this series, and the clock is starting to run out. If they don’t get on a two-week roll (as the Red Sox did in late June and the Rays did earlier this month) and make up three or four games on the field in a hurry, it’ll be not-so-magic-number time by mid-September.
The Orioles looked good taking two of three from the A’s over the weekend, but the A’s have gained back the game they lost in the wild-card standings and more with victories the past two nights. The O’s are in range of both the A’s and Rays, but they’ve also got to outrace the Indians and hold the Yankees at bay down the stretch.
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Remember all the people who said last winter that it would be very hard to get back to the playoffs because the wild-card contenders in the other AL divisions will have easier schedules down the stretch? Well, they were right.
The Indians have a very tough week ahead, including a head-to-head series with the O’s in Cleveland, but their creampuff schedule for the final 23 games of the regular season gives them a real chance to climb into the No. 1 wild-card position while the Rays, O’s and Red Sox beat each other up. The A’s also have a tough rest of the week ahead against the Tigers and Rays, but also have a much softer September schedule than the AL East contenders.
Nothing is impossible, of course. The Dodgers gained 10 1/2 games on the first-place Braves in just 12 days late in the 1982 season, but the double wild card has made things a little more complicated these days.
If the Orioles want to play in October, they need to win almost all of the next eight games against the Sox, Yankees and Indians. They can talk all they want about taking them one game at a time, but they need to come home with at least six wins on this road trip.