The Orioles' season now comes down to the final 10 games of the regular season.
This isn't something I expected to be writing two weeks ago, but the Orioles' playoff hopes are now more than a pipe dream.
They now have a fighting chance.
The Orioles open a three-game series against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park 3½ games behind the Houston Astros for the second wild-card position, one of four teams vying for the American League's final postseason berth. The Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Angels are both 1½ games back of Houston.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he hasn't looked at the standings. Given the meticulous way Showalter is, that's hard to believe, but his point is that scoreboard watching doesn't matter if you're not winning your own games.
And now the Orioles have won 11 of their past 15 heading into Boston.
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They undoubtedly face the toughest remaining schedule. After three games at Fenway, they come home for four games at Camden Yards against the first-place Toronto Blue Jays and then end up the regular season with three games at home against the New York Yankees.
Both teams have a lot to play for. The Blue Jays are chasing their first AL East title and postseason berth since their last World Series title in 1993. The Yankees can still catch Toronto, but also have a hold of the first AL wild-card spot.
The Astros have nine games left: three against the AL West-leading Texas Rangers this weekend before playing their final six on the road -- three in Seattle and then a three-game interleague series in Arizona.
The Twins might have the easiest overall path, but the toughest end to their remaining schedule. They play the last-place Detroit Tigers for three this weekend, then go to Cleveland for four against the Indians before finishing up with three games at home against a Kansas City Royals team with the best record in the AL.
The Angels play their next six games at home, three against the Mariners and four against the last-place Athletics before ending the season with four humongous games in Texas.
The Orioles obviously have to feel better about their postseason outlook, but they're still facing a tremendous uphill climb, especially over their final seven games. That makes this weekend's series in Boston even more pivotal. Every game is a must-win, but it seems like they have to come out of Fenway with a sweep to feel good about themselves coming home.