Orioles must win final six games to finish above .500 this season

Orioles must win final six games to finish above .500 this season
Chris Tillman of the Baltimore Orioles pitches in the first inning during a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 28, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Mitchell Layton / Getty Images)

This is what it has come to.

A team that won 96 games last year and made it to the American League Championship Series must win its final six games of 2015 to have a winning season.


After losing their fourth straight Monday night, a 4-3 defeat to the Toronto Blue Jays, the Orioles are 76-80 this year.

One more loss and the best they can do is finish at .500. Two losses and they finish below .500 for the first time since 2011, Buck Showalter's first full season as Orioles manager.

Oh, there are other little incentives for winning. Like not having the Blue Jays clinch the division title on the Camden Yards field. But the playoffs were punted -- really, truly -- when the Orioles lost 10 of 11 to the Minnesota Twins, Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers, all playoff contenders.

The season ended then -- from Aug. 20 to Aug. 30 -- after that it was just talking and dreaming.

Now, this last week is all about moral victories.

Season victories mean little at this point.

** Chris Tillman is highly competitive and exceptionally proud. So pitching well against the Blue Jays on Monday held some significance for him.

In five previous outings against Toronto this year, Tillman was 0-4 with a 15.50 ERA. In those five games he lasted just 18 innings, giving up 31 earned runs. His career ERA versus Toronto before Monday was an awful 6.02.

On Monday, Tillman pitched into the eighth and allowed just two runs on five hits and one walk in 7 1/3 innings. One of the runs charged to him scored after he left the game.

He admitted afterward that he really wanted to pitch again against the Blue Jays -- and he really wanted to win Monday.

"I did. I wanted to get 'em," Tillman said. "For the most part it was pretty good tonight. Would've been better to come out of that with a [win]. But … they're a good team. And they never stop."

Tillman has one start remaining for the season, likely Saturday against the New York Yankees. He is currently 10-11 with a 5.05 ERA in 30 starts. He has a chance to even his record -- he hasn't had a losing mark since 2011 -- and drop his ERA under 5.00 with a good showing in his season finale.

** I know I harp all the time on this, but to me it's basic baseball. The Orioles had a three-run homer in the second inning Monday, meaning they have scored in one of their last 37 innings. And, of course, it was on a homer.

The Blue Jays scored in three separate innings Monday, including one run on a home run. The Blue Jays lead the majors with 223 longballs and the Orioles are fourth with 205. But the Jays have scored 182 more runs this season.



Well, the Blue Jays lead the majors with a phenomenal .338 on-base percentage, that's 10 points better than the next team.

The Orioles? They have an OBP of .304 -- among the worst in the AL.

You can live by the homer, but you can also die by it when it's the only weapon in your arsenal. Monday was a perfect example of that. The Orioles had three runs on four hits. The Blue Jays had four runs on 10 hits -- including nine singles.

Yes, nine singles. The most powerful team in baseball beat the Orioles with a few key base hits.

That's why they are headed to the playoffs. And one of the reasons the Orioles aren't.