A very difficult nine-game stretch arrives for the Orioles

For the Orioles, the next nine games may well determine if they can truly be in or out of the wild-card race for the rest of this season. They are currently 1.5 games out of the second AL wild-card spot.

Breaking a three-game losing streak Thursday was big and the Orioles are 6-3 over the last nine games. But now their next nine will be against the red-hot A's this weekend, followed by a six-game road trip against the Yankees and Rays.

It is a pretty grueling stretch that has arrived.

Oakland was five games under .500 on June 30 but has gone 16-3 since and now holds the second AL wild-card berth as it arrives in Baltimore. The A's had won seven in a row, including Wednesday's 16-0 romp at Toronto, until losing 10-4 there Thursday.

Other notes on the A's:
* They are 31-15 since June 2.
* They lead the majors with 11 walk-off wins and have eight of them over their past 16 home games.
* They are 10-2 since the All-Star break.
* They have won their last eight games decided by one run, their longest streak since they won 11 in a row during the 2000 season.
* They are in a stretch of 17 consecutive games against AL East teams. They are 6-1 so far and are 15-9 against the East on the season.

Some pretty impressive stuff heading into the weekend series of O's vs. A's.

What is your take? How will the Orioles fare during this nine-game stretch. Will they still remain in the wild-card hunt when it is over?

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