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Orioles, Red Sox meet for midweek series after shaking up AL playoff race with road series wins

With emphatic series wins in Detroit and Toronto, respectively, the Orioles and Boston Red Sox went a long way toward redefining the American League playoff races with their performances this weekend ahead of a massive midweek series at Fenway Park.

The Orioles, whose high-water mark on the road this season was a two-game sweep at Minnesota in May that represented their only winning road trip, took two of three from the wild card rival Tigers to bump them to 4-2 on a road trip that comprises three games each in Tampa Bay, Detroit and Boston.

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That effort, combined with Boston taking two of three on the road against the flagging Blue Jays, put the Orioles in a tie with Toronto atop the wild card standings at 78-64, two games ahead of Detroit and the New York Yankees for the two supplemental playoff spots in the American League.

The Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners, both 75-68, sit 3.5 games out of those wild card spots.

From a subjective stance, Boston struck an even bigger blow to a rival than the Orioles did, considering how they thumped Toronto. The Blue Jays have lost seven of nine and needed a team meeting Saturday to try and right the ship. The Red Sox, meanwhile, have the best rotation in the league since the All-Star break, just ahead of the Tigers.

Quantitatively, the Orioles gained the most from the weekend. When both series began Friday, FanGraph's playoff odds for the Red Sox were 89.9 percent, with the Orioles at 47.4 percent. Boston is now at 93.4 percent, with the Orioles jumping up to 56.7 percent. Toronto is in between at 74.5 percent.

The Orioles' Sunday starter, Chris Tillman, recognized how important the weekend was. They haven't had playoff odds that high since Aug. 15, according to FanGraphs.

"It's big for the team," Tillman said. "Any win this time of the season is really big, especially against a good ballclub like this. Going into Boston with our heads up and confident, it's a good feeling."

The Orioles send new left-hander Wade Miley, a Boston pitcher a year ago, to the mound Monday, followed by Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy. Boston counters with David Price, Drew Pomeranz and Rick Porcello.

"We're going to get on a plane and go to the next hostile environment and let people continue to cast doubt on us and count us out," manager Buck Showalter said after Sunday's win. "We like that. We've been doing it for about four years now."

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