The Orioles began a grueling part of their schedule Monday. It began with the three games they just played in New York to be followed by three games this weekend in Boston. They then return home for four with Texas, three with Tampa Bay and two more with New York.
That is a stretch of 15 games against four teams that all could win 90 or more games this year and be playoff teams.
Counting the Yankees’ record of 12-9 at the start of the series with the Orioles, those four teams have a combined win percentage right now of .600 at 57-38.
The Orioles went a combined 23-37 against those four teams last season.
So going into this grueling stretch, I thought the Orioles would go about 6-9 over the 15-game run. It wasn’t so much a prediction but a realistic expectation of what the team could do against such a brutal stretch of the schedule.
A 6-9 mark would leave the Orioles at three games over .500 at the end of the stretch and in pretty good shape by mid-May.
But maybe now the club can do better, perhaps much better than 6-9. They began with winning a series in New York. And, after entering Yankee Stadium with a team ERA of 3.06, it is now down to 2.83 (first in the American League) after the staff gave up just three runs over 26 innings the past three days.
It almost sounds crazy to say it, but if the Orioles post a winning record over this stretch against some of the best teams in the league, the team can say it is a playoff contender through nearly one-quarter of the schedule.
Stranger things have happened and longtime O’s fans remember the 1989 team.
And it’s been pointed out before, but Buck Showalter’s three previous teams averaged a whopping 21.6-win improvement during his second full year at each stop and this is his second full year here.
It is probably hard not for any fan to get at least a little caught up in the fun right now and start to dream big. If the club goes into a tailspin, there will be plenty of time later to rip everyone and some of the readers here will do that I’m sure.
But for now, we should give this team, staff and front office props for a stunning start to the season - and if any fan wants to dream big, I won’t tell them not to.