The Orioles continue to confound some critics, who can’t understand a 66-55 record with a -44 run differential. There are 10 AL clubs with a better run differential but only three with a better record.
The amazing 42-18 record in games decided by one and two runs helps explain away some of that. Most of that actually.
We can cherry pick a few series and see this at work. Like the one the Orioles just played. They lost by two, then won by one and two runs for a 2-1 record and run differential of just plus-1.
In late July they went to Yankee Stadium and won two of three, losing the series finale 12-3 for a -2 differential in a series which they went 2-1. In mid July, thanks to a 19-7 loss in Game 1 of a four-game series at Minnesota, they split four games with a -12 run differential. Around the fourth of July they took two of three at Seattle winning by one and two but lost the opener 6-3 for an even 0 scoring in that series.
They went 8-5 in those games with a -13 run differential.
This recent Sports Illustrated article gives the O’s little chance to make the playoffs because of this stat. It also mentions that just four clubs have ever made the post season with a negative differential.
1984 KC Royals at -13
1987 Minnesota Twins at -20
1997 San Francisco Giants at -9
2005 San Diego Padres at -44
2007 Arizona Diamondbacks -20
Two of those five clubs won playoff series. The 2007 Diamondbacks, with Mark Reynolds at third base, beat the Cubs in a division series before losing to Colorado in the NLCS. The 1987 Twins beat Detroit in the ALCS and won a seven-game World Series against St. Louis.
The last time the Orioles played Texas they were outscored by 21 runs in losing three of four in that series at Camden Yards in May.
In keeping with the theme of this season, maybe the Orioles will win a pair of one-run games in Texas and lose the third game 10-1.
All that would do is put the Orioles one step closer to the playoffs, improve their record and further confound their critics. I think they’d be OK with that.