The Orioles will have 19 games remaining after tonight, all of them against division opponents.
Nobody said the path to the postseason would be a smooth one.
Does manager Buck Showalter take it day-by-day?
“It’s hour-by-hour almost,” he said.
The Orioles have home series remaining against the Yankees, Blue Jays and Red Sox, and trips to Toronto, Boston and Tampa. As part of their September schedule, the Yankees will host San Francisco and end the regular season with a trip to Houston.
“I hear a lot of the fodder about who this team plays the last week, this team plays Houston, this team supposedly on paper has a weak schedule and whatever, and we have the hardest,” Showalter said. “I’ve got it. But somewhere along the line, we’re all facing similar competition. We know the integrity of the schedule is not there, but there’s a nine-inning game played every night against a team that, if you beat, you get closer to your goal. Regardless of what the schedule is, regardless of this and that. If you dwell on that, and our guys don’t...
“It’s nine innings, grind those at-bats, grind those pitches. And at the end of the night, step back and go, ‘All right, where did that take us?’ And then go do it again. Do it again, do it again, do it again. Do it 162 times. It’s hard to get that mentality conveyed to, sometimes to us, including me, who aren’t in that arena. It’s a challenge.
“The schedule, believe me, we could sit here and critique it for hours. I’m probably as bad as anybody when you step back and really look at it. But if you let it, it will eat you up. What’s fair is that you’re playing nine innings tonight with a chance to win a baseball game, and then everybody else has to. And the next day you get another chance. That’s what’s fair. It’s not like, ‘Well you don’t get to play tonight.’ Or, ‘We’re going to give you an L before you even start.’ That’s not how it works. You go out there and earn it every night, and we’ve got an opportunity to do that.”
Showalter took his first look at the 2013 schedule last summer and figured that the Orioles’ playoff hopes could come down to the final weeks.
“I was hoping so,” he said. “This is the 9th of September and we’ve got 20 games left. Would you have signed up in blood for that when we went to Sarasota, to play meaningful games the last 20 games where we can control certain things if we play really well? I don’t know. I’m not one of those guys who looks back and says, ‘Oh boy, if we could have won that game. Remember that game?.’ I also remember 10 or 20 that maybe we shouldn’t have won, but we did. That’s why we play the games.
“It’s interesting. Our curiosity is always satisfied. I could enjoy it a lot more if I knew how it was going to turn out. If we were going to be in the playoffs by one game and you could let me in on that right now, I’d have a hell of a time the rest of the way. But I’m going to have a hell of a time either way, OK?
“I’m not going to live in that other situation if I can help it, but don’t hold me to it.”
Update: Alex Rodriguez, batting second for the first time since 2006, homered to right field to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead in the opening inning.
Rodriguez swung through an 83 mph changeup and took a 93 mph fastball to the opposite field for the 28th homer allowed by Chris Tillman this season.
Tillman has allowed 68 home runs in his career, with 48 being solo shots. Rodriguez (twice) and Kelly Shoppach are the only players to hit three-run homers off him.
Tillman threw 24 pitches in the first.