Down the Stretch (Oct. 1)

Down the Stretch (Oct. 1)

[Down the stretch is a daily Orioles Insider blog that will set up the coming day for the O's and their American League competition as the push for the postseason continues.]

About last night


AL East Standings

*BAL       92-67     --
*NYY       92-67     --
TB           88-71     4

AL Wild-Card Standings

*BAL/NYY  92-67      --
OAK         91-68         --
LAA          88-71      3
TB            88-71      3

* Clinched postseason berth


Today's game

Orioles at Rays, 7:10 p.m.

LHP Wei-Yin Chen (12-10, 4.11 ERA) vs. RHP Alex Cobb (10-9, 4.18 ERA)

Key matchup

Rays infielder Jeff Keppinger is 4-for-8 with 2 RBIs against Chen.

Other games that matter

Red Sox (Buchholz) at Yankees (Sabathia), 7:05 p.m.

White Sox (Santiago) at Indians (Kluber), 7:05 p.m.

Tigers (Porcello) at Royals (Chen), 8:10 p.m.

Rangers (Perez) at Athletics (Parker), 10:05 p.m.

Angels (Wilson) at Mariners (Hernandez), 10:10 p.m.

NOTE: The Tigers lead the White Sox by three games with three to play, so any Detroit win or Chicago loss will end the AL Central race.

Thought of the day


True to form, these Orioles didn't do the whole postseason clinching thing in traditional fashion.

From Joe Nathan spoiling a potential party at Camden Yards to an emergency landing for the Orioles' charter plane, it surely wasn't the day anybody had drawn up.

Then again, who mapped out a script back in April that included the O's locking up a playoff berth with three games left to play in the season?

You could say that the pressure is now off, and the Orioles can just go out and let it rip with a chance to win the division (and even secure the best record in the AL) still in reach.

But this team never seemed to feel any of that pressure in the first place.

Yes, it helped that the Red Sox all but rolled over and played dead this weekend. But aside from a couple losses in a row against Toronto last week, the O's didn't seem to let the magnitude of those late-September games affect them in a negative way.

Now it's October and new challenges await, starting with three more games that matter against a tough Tampa Bay team.

If they win all three, the worst the Orioles can do is host a tiebreaker game against the Yankees for the division title.

If they pick up two games on Texas, they could enter the playoffs as the AL's top seed. (A tie with Texas would give the Rangers the top seed by virtue of their 5-2 record against the O's.)

And yet, if they fall behind the A's, there's still a chance the Orioles could be a playoff participant without even getting to host a postseason game at Camden Yards.

The way this strange season has played out, there's no reasonable way of predicting which of those scenarios is likeliest.

But there is that little clinching asterisk next to the Orioles' name in the standings, and heading into the final series of the season, that's a pretty good thing to have.

Inside the enemy clubhouses

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