Based on their play this season against the teams remaining on their schedule, the Orioles seem to have a real good shot at a very strong finish, one that might be good enough for them to win their first AL East title since 1997.
The Orioles are one game behind the Yankees with 16 to play and here are the remaining opponents for both teams:
3 at Seattle
3 at Boston
4 vs. Toronto
3 vs. Boston
3 at Tampa Bay
3 vs. Toronto
3 vs. Oakland
3 at Minnesota
4 at Toronto
3 vs. Boston
The Orioles are 5-1 against Seattle, 8-4 against Boston, 9-5 vs. Toronto and 9-6 versus Tampa Bay. That is a combined record of 31-16 and .660 win percentage against the remaining opponents.
The Yankees are 6-5 against Toronto, 3-4 against Oakland, 2-2 versus Minnesota and 10-5 versus Boston. That is a combined record of 21-16 and win percentage of .568.
Wild card leader Oakland has this remaining schedule: three at Detroit, three at New York, four at Texas, three versus Seattle and three versus Texas. That is a tough schedule, but the A’s are 21-18 (.538) against those teams.
Los Angeles, which is 2 1/2 games back of the O’s for the second wild card, has this remaining schedule: three versus Texas, three against Chicago, three versus Seattle, three at Texas and three at Seattle. The Angels have a 17-14 (.548) record against those teams in 2012.
I don’t think anyone should take for granted that the Orioles will just roll through that schedule. Who knows what motivation their remaining opponents may have? They could face a pitcher who feels he is pitching for his 2012 job or a player who feels the same way. Will Boston want to ruin the O’s season after last year?
But the fact is that the O’s next 13 games are against clubs with losing records and now, after they went 1-5 at Baltimore and New York, it’s possible Tampa could be out of it by those final three games, although I surely am not counting on that being the case. But it’s possible.
Meanwhile, Matt Wieters is putting on a nice finishing kick for the Orioles. After his two-homer game Sunday, Wieters is batting .248 with 21 homers and 76 RBIs. In 14 September games, he is batting .341 with four homers, 11 RBIs and a 1.132 OPS. Wieters has 26 RBIs over his past 33 games.
Even though Adam Jones and Jim Johnson, among others, are so deserving of votes for Most Valuable Oriole, it is going to be hard for me to keep Wieters off my ballot and maybe even from listing him first.
Reporters in that clubhouse every day get a steady stream of Wieters praise from the pitching staff. Almost any night when the starter has pitched a good game, he mentions Wieters’ pitch calling or something he did to help him. Buck Showalter constantly marvels not only at Wieters’ talents, but the physical pounding he takes daily at that position.
Some years, finding three players to list on our Most Valuable Oriole ballots is not easy. This year, limiting it to three and placing the order is most difficult. Matt Wieters as MVO? I can see that.