The Orioles completed the interleague portion of their schedule when the Rockies left town on Sunday, which didn't bring a tear to the eye of manager Buck Showalter.
Showalter jokingly referred to the interleague matchups as exhibition games.
The schedule has gotten a whole lot more serious.
It's loaded with division opponents and teams outside of it that remain in playoff contention. The Orioles have two more games against Tampa Bay before Oakland comes to town, then they head to Boston and New York to close the month. They end their road trip with three games in Cleveland before returning home to play the White Sox and Yankees.
Then, it's back on the road to Toronto, Boston and Tampa Bay and home against Toronto and Boston to close the regular season.
The Orioles have one off day next month, on Sept. 15, after completing their three-game series in Toronto and flying to Boston.
Do these games take on a different feel?
"Probably. Ask me after the game tonight," Showalter said.
We didn't bother. Of course they're different.
"Obviously, I haven't looked a whole lot further than the rest of this month, but I think I've got it memorized," Showalter said. "There's not many teams that are not going to be potentially someone you're going to be watching the scoreboard with a little bit. So from that standpoint, it should be entertaining for the fans. I don't know about for the rest of us.
"It's going to be a ride, because you've got to keep your emotions and sense of reality, because the season's not going to end on one night. If you let yourself get on a roller coaster here, you will. But it's part of it. It's why we do these things. It's why we started spring training, to have a chance to do this, to play meaningful games the last month or so. And we have. So that's something you should be looking forward to, not with some sense of negativity at all. Believe me, our guys aren't at all. They have a lot of respect for their competition."
Showalter has a lot of respect for Josh Stinson, who was optioned following Sunday's game because he wouldn't have been available for a few days and the Orioles needed a fourth bench player.
Stinson's stock really has soared since that one failed start at Camden Yards, when the Blue Jays hit four home runs off him in 5 2/3 innings and a jokester on Twitter referred to him as "Homer Stinson."
"Stinson went down there and pitched real well and got back," Showalter said. "And it's like I told him yesterday, he continues to leave us with a good taste in our mouths. He ain't scared. And he kind of likes relieving.
"One question he had for me was whether he would relieve or start down there. I asked him what he'd rather do and he said, 'I don't care. Whatever gets me back here.' They've got like seven starters now, I think."
Stinson could be a long reliever/spot starter next season, but he's going to be out of options, which always complicates matters.
On Sunday, Adam Jones joined Frank Robinson as the only outfielders in Orioles history with 25 or more home runs in three or more seasons.
"One of the big similarities between the two guys that you're talking about is the zest and the passion they have for competing and playing the game with effort and playing it the right way," Showalter said. "Adam, I'm so proud of him and I know his family is and I know his teammates are, because this guy posts up. He plays the game hard. He cares about winning. And he's very consistent. You know what you're going to get with him personality-wise. There's not a lot of ebb and flow. He doesn't take himself too seriously and he has a great approach.
"There's no such thing as a perfect player or a perfect manager or a perfect broadcaster. We all have our moments. But he's just such a grinder. It's a pleasure to watch him. And I'll tell you, from that standpoint, he has a lot in common with Frank."
Cuban outfielder Dariel Alvarez continues to impress now that he's moved up to Single-A Frederick. Apparently, he's got a tremendous arm. It's rated a 7. The scale is 1-to-8.
One scout says Alvarez already has the second-best arm in the organization behind Jones. Another scout said it's better than Jones' arm.
I'll let them fight it out.
Shortstop J.J. Hardy celebrated his 31st birthday last night by going 3-for-5. He's hit safely in 12 of his last 13 games, batting .321 (17-for-53) with a double, four home runs and seven RBIs.
Nick Markakis doesn't have an extra-base hit in his last 27 games since July 20, the longest drought of his career and the second-longest in the American League this season. Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan didn't have an extra-base hit in his first 32 games this season.
Markakis' last home run? Try June 24 against the Indians.
The Orioles are 14-22 in one-run games, 18-21 against left-handed starters, 24-17 in the first game of a series, 24-33 when their opponent scores first, 11-34 when scoring fewer than four runs, 43-17 when they out-hit their opponent and 24-24 against the American League East.
Class A Delmarva right-hander Parker Bridwell was named the South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week after throwing eight scoreless innings in his last start, with two hits, no walks and 14 strikeouts.
The 14 strikeouts were the most by a Shorebirds pitcher since 2000, when Erik Bedard fanned 14 in a complete game against Hickory.
Bridwell ranks second in the South Atlantic League with 131 strikeouts. He leads all Orioles minor league pitchers in strikeouts.
I wanted to pass along a press release from The Casey Cares Foundation, which announced a special event where critically ill children and their families will meet some of the Orioles players today and learn how to play baseball.
Extra Innings, a state-of-the-art premier, indoor baseball facility on Rossville Boulevard in Baltimore, is donating their space so that seriously ill children can strike out their "bad days" and have a great day. Brian Matusz, T.J. McFarland and other Orioles players will sign autographs and play games with the kids.
This Caring Connections party is one of six programs of the Casey Cares Foundation, a charity that provides uplifting and ongoing programs with a special touch for critically ill children and their families. The Caring Connections Program encourages families to meet, share, and support each other while taking part in themed group parties.
The Orioles will arrive and begin "training" the kids from noon-12:45 p.m. The players will pose for photos from 12:45 p.m.-1 p.m.