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Breaking down the Orioles' 2011 schedule; it's brutal, folks

Major League Baseball made its 2011 schedule official yesterday, and by now you probably know the highlights (especially since we told you most of them during the unofficial phase a couple months ago).

The Orioles open up in Tampa again, this time April 1, which is a Friday. That's a new twist to the entire baseball schedule.

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The home opener is Monday, April 4 against the Detroit Tigers, against whom the Orioles will wrap up their road season in September. Strange, huh? The Orioles finish their season at home with three against the Boston Red Sox.

Also, the St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds will play at Camden Yards for the first time in 2011. The rest of the Orioles' interleague schedule includes trips to Atlanta and Pittsburgh and the usual home-road with the Washington Nationals.

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Here are some other things that jumped out at me:

September will be as brutal as always. Sixteen of their 26 September games will be on the road. Nineteen September games are against the AL East (six with Boston and Tampa, four with Toronto and three in the Bronx).

The two non-East clubs the Orioles get in September? The Los Angeles Angels and Detroit Tigers, and my guess is those two teams won't be down two years in a row.

Another painful quirk of the 2011 schedule: Five, three-city road trips. Ouch. The Orioles had three this season. Three of those 2011 three-city trips come after Aug. 15. And they have an inhumane trek to end the first half: Go to Atlanta for three; fly to Texas for three, and then fly all the way back east to Boston for four. All without an off day.

This is stating the obvious, given the past 13 years, but making a run in 2011 won't be easy.

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