BOSTON — Orioles manager Buck Showalter was left to defend the possibility that the second American League wild-card team could end up a few games over .500 with a negative run differential, indicating that team is fortunate for the record it has.
Showalter didn't believe it was bad for the game, though he acknowledged that the five playoff teams from each league would all be playing a different game come October.
"I bet it's real good for the team that gets in and goes ahead and wins," said Showalter, whose Orioles entered Saturday's game 63-65 but with a run differential of -31. "It's all about whose pitchers are hot and who's out of it right now. A wild-card team wins the Super Bowl; is that bad for football? I'm all for having the regular season matter for home-field advantage and all that, but after that, there's such a small separator for teams. These are the best players in the world ... and on a given night, a team that can lose 100 games can embarrass you if the pitching's right, if certain stars are aligned."
Even so, Showalter sees the possibility of a team just a few games over .500 making the postseason as a slim one.
"I'll believe that when I see it," Showalter said. "September is an eternity. Trying to close out a good season as a divisional champion, and trying to catch up — September is an eternity. I keep trying to tell our guys, we inch along, and each day there will be a different angle. You just try to keep reality in mind."
The Orioles entered Saturday's game 2½ games out of the second wild-card spot, held by the Minnesota Twins, who are 66-63 with a -33 run differential. Between them are five clubs, and only one — the 64-64 Texas Rangers — has a positive run differential at +31.
Around the horn
Shortstop J.J. Hardy was scheduled to play again for Triple-A Norfolk on Saturday as he rehabilitates his fractured right wrist, Showalter said. "Everything's good," he said. "Things are going well. We're hoping he's not too far away." ... Showalter passed Hall of Famer Clark Griffith for 23rd place on the all-time wins list with 1,492 victories after Friday's win.