TORONTO — To get deep into the playoffs, teams have to find a way to wins games on the road, sometimes even ones they have no business winning.
And don't look now, but the Orioles are finally starting to play well away from Camden Yards after struggling on the road for most of the season.
After taking two of three from the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, the Orioles have now won their last four road series, winning eight of their last 12 road games.
Even more impressive is where the Orioles won those road series. Three of the four were against playoff contenders – Detroit, Boston and Toronto – so without those wins, we might not be talking about the Orioles' three-game race to the wild-card game.
"I think we're grinding," catcher Matt Wieters said when asked about the Orioles' recent road success. "We're grinding it out. I think right now, it's a focus thing. Everybody's focused on the same prize, the same goal and we're going to try to keep that focus going to New York."
If the Orioles do make it to the postseason, and if we're in the midst of the next chapter of "Orioles Magic," Hyun Soo Kim's pinch-hit home run in the ninth inning of Wednesday night's game will be the moment that turned it all around. Before that at-bat, the Orioles were reeling, well on their way to not only losing the top wild-card spot, but getting bounced from the playoff race altogether.
Against everything they are, the Orioles did everything it took to escape Toronto with a series win. From Adam Jones' groundout to the right side to move J.J. Hardy to third, Michael Bourn's steal of second base and Mark Trumbo's hustle out of the batter's box to extend a sure single into a double, each of those plays eventually led to runs.
And they are plays that winning teams execute, plays that this Orioles team has struggled to make.
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"We feel good," Bourn said after Thursday's win. "We're supposed to right now but the job isn't done. We're happy about tonight and yesterday but you have to continue to stay focused. That's the big key. We're going to New York. We'll be happy on the flight, but we still have to take care of business tomorrow. It's good we won the series, but everything is not finished."
The Orioles left Canada for possibly the final time this season. After the series here opened with a 5-1 loss, it looked as though the Orioles would be heading back to the Rogers Centre for the wild-card game if they made the postseason. Now, they have to opportunity to host that game at Camden Yards.
If the Blue Jays and Orioles finish the season with the same record, Toronto would hold a tiebreaker for home-field advantage in a wild-card game, thanks to the Jays winning the season series, 10-9.
The Jays head to Boston to play their final three games against the Red Sox.
The Orioles need to handle their own business against the Yankees.
"New York was going to be a big series no matter what, but now we go in there and try to win as many games as we can and win Friday and see where it goes from there," Wieters said. "It would be nice to be able to get that wild-card game at home if we can."