The Baltimore Orioles have won just four of its last 10 games played, yet they still managed to claim first place in the American League East division with a 62-47 record, as of Aug. 7.
Baltimore Orioles’ Manny Machado celebrates with teammates after scoring on a sacrifice fly by J.J. Hardy during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox in Chicago, Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Part of that has to do with the fact that the Orioles were so good in the first half of the season that they put enough of a cushion in between them and the competition, thus, they could afford to lose some games without it hurting their place in the standings too much. The other part is no other winning team in the division has put together enough consecutive wins to take advantage of Baltimore’s random losing slumps.
The Toronto Blue Jays put together a seven-game win streak a month ago, which drastically improved their place in the standings, but they haven’t won more than three straight games since. However, they’ve won six of their last 10 games, tying them with the O’s atop the division with a 63-48 record.
Baltimore Orioles’ Pedro Alvarez hits a solo home run against the Chicago White Sox during the eighth inning of a baseball game Friday, Aug. 5, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Baltimore has just a little more than 50 games left before the regular season ends. That’s enough games to widen the gap between them and the competition, like they did in the first half. But it’s also just enough games to go the opposite way and lose their way out of a playoff seed.
The Orioles won games in the first half by exceeding expectations and overcoming a shaky starting pitcher rotation with great offensive play and clutch pitching out of the bullpen. Some would argue the starting rotation has gotten worse in the second half. Chris Tillman, the only reliable pitcher in the rotation, had won his first nine games of the season and had a 12-2 record at the All-Star break. But he’s gone 2-2 since the break, and the rest of the rotation hasn’t been any better.
What makes matters worse is the offense hasn’t been as good in the second half. Relief pitchers Brad Brach and Zack Britton have still been lights-out out of the bullpen, but with the batters like Chris Davis sputtering on offense, the losses have been rolling in as fast as the wins. That makes Baltimore look more like a below average, sub .500 team instead of a division champion. Time will only reveal which Orioles team is the real deal. Are they the winners of the first half, or the losers of the second half?