The Orioles will open their shortened 2020 season July 24 at the Boston Red Sox, beginning a 60-game stretch that will conclude at the end of September as Major League Baseball attempts to restart amid the coronavirus pandemic.
After that two-game series in Boston, the Orioles will travel to Miami to face the Marlins for two games July 27 and July 28 before returning home to host the Marlins on July 29 at Camden Yards.
The opponents themselves for the shortened season have long been known. The 60-game format allows each team to play the others in its division 10 times apiece to limit long-distance travel, and the remaining 20 games are split among the teams from the other league’s corresponding division.
Because the Orioles’ natural rival in interleague play is the World Series champion Washington Nationals, they’ll face them six times total—Aug. 7-9 in Washington and Aug. 14-16 at Camden Yards.
With the Nationals’ strength, plus the Atlanta Braves looking to repeat as division champions with the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies looking to earn playoff spots of their own, the Orioles’ already difficult schedule got worse.
“I think playing the National League East a lot is going to be interesting,” executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said last month. “I didn’t think that our strength of schedule being an American League East team could get any tougher, but it actually did. We do have the toughest strength-of-schedule this year. It’s not going to be an easy road.”
While overlooking the caliber of opponents they’ll be facing and the high stakes of such games, some have chosen instead to focus on the unpredictability of a short season and the circumstances it’s being executed under to posit that the Orioles could over-perform their last-place expectations.
“It’s definitely a sprint,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “There’s no doubt about it. We’re going to be in first place in late July. I think that’s really exciting for all of us.”
Fortunately for the Orioles, much of their travel will occur in the Northeast, where coronavirus cases have been relatively stable over the past month. Their trips to face the Tampa Bay Rays and Marlins in Florida could prove challenging on that front, as cases have spiked in Florida. No firm solution to the international travel regulations caused by COVID-19 has been reached when it comes to traveling into and out of Canada to face the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Orioles have said the season will begin without fans, though the office of Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said last week that discussions were being held to explore that option later in the season.
MLB’s announcement included two showcase games on Thursday, July 23, to kick off the season. The Nationals will face the New York Yankees, then the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants will play later that night before the season begins for the remaining 26 clubs July 24.
Before the season begins, the Orioles will play exhibition games at the Phillies on July 19, at home against the Nationals on July 20, and at the Nationals on July 21.