The front office of the overachieving Baltimore Orioles apparently didn't believe the team had a great shot at making the playoffs for the first time since 2016 when it dealt away the heart and soul of the club, first baseman Trey Mancini, and All-Star closer Jorge Lopez at the Trade Deadline. Yet the Birds are 58-52 entering play Thursday and tied with Tampa Bay for the final American League Wild Card spot. Caesars Sportsbook oddsmakers still list the O's as +575 long shots, though, to play playoff baseball with No at -900.
Baltimore's .667 winning percentage (34-17) since June 11 is the best in the AL. The O's have outscored their opponents 467-459 (plus-8) on the season. More impressively, they've outscored opponents 277-226 (plus-51) in 59 games since June 1 after being outscored 190-233 (minus-43) in their first 51 games.
The Orioles were given a league-low season win total of just 61.5 at Caesars, so they are going to blow past that, likely next week. They already have eclipsed their win total from each of the last three full seasons: 2021 (52-110), 2019 (54-108), and 2018 (47-115).
Opposing pitchers may want to pitch around Rougned Odor in clutch situations. He beat the Blue Jays on Tuesday with a two-run shot in the bottom of the eighth and of his 11 homers on the season, six have come in moments defined by Baseball-Reference as high leverage.
Wednesday's home rainout might have come at a great time, as Baltimore was in the midst of 17 consecutive games without an off day. The team visits Boston for a one-game series tonight and then heads to Tampa Bay for three this weekend before going to Toronto for three early next week.
Other than against the Yankees, the Orioles are .500 or better against every one of their division rivals. That's good because the schedule is very AL East-heavy going forward. In fact, the only "easy" series remaining on the schedule are Sept. 2-4 vs. Oakland, Sept. 13-14 at Washington, and Sept. 19-21 vs. Detroit.
This team is going to be a true World Series contender sooner rather than later with excellent young talent already on the roster such as rookie catcher Adley Rutschman, who is batting .345 since the All-Star break. The Orioles also boast six prospects in Baseball America's updated Top 100 prospects list, including top overall prospect Gunnar Henderson.
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