After strong Aprils, can O's and Rays make hay in May?

The Orioles – and everybody else in the American League East – have been looking up in the standings at the Tampa Bay Rays all season. From just about the first pitch of the 2023 year.

The Rays went 13-0 to start the year and began play yesterday at 22-5 (.815) with the best record in baseball. For a while, they were looking like they would pull off a 1984 Detroit Tigers start of 35-5. As of yesterday afternoon, they still could do that, the math was still possible.

And while the Orioles' 17-8 start heading into yesterday was one of their best-ever, they began Saturday’s doubleheader four games out of first place. But their .667 win percentage would be good enough to be first in four of the other five divisions in MLB.

However, in this division, they continue to look up to the Rays.

The Orioles and Rays have something in common beyond getting off to good starts. Both teams play schedules that were and are in April much softer on paper than what they will both face in May.

The Orioles will play 28 games this month, and that will work out to 22 games versus clubs with current losing records and just six games against teams with winning records as of Saturday afternoon. For Tampa Bay they will play 29 games this month – also just six games vs. teams with current winning records. Tampa Bay by the way is 2-4 in those series against winning clubs in Toronto and Houston while the Orioles are 3-3 in two series versus winning clubs in the Yankees and Rangers.

But here are the May schedules for both with a listing of their opponents' win percentages as of Saturday afternoon.

For the Orioles

3 at Kansas City, .222

3 at Atlanta, .667

3 vs. Tampa Bay, .815

3 vs. Pittsburgh, .692

4 vs. Los Angeles Angels, .519

3 at Toronto, .654

3 at New York Yankees, .556

3 vs. Texas, .577

3 vs. Cleveland, .500

For the Rays

3 vs. Pittsburgh, .692

3 vs. New York Yankees, .556

3 at Orioles, .680

3 at New York Yankees, .556

3 at New York Mets, .556

3 vs. Milwaukee, .654

4 vs. Toronto, .654

3 vs. Los Angeles Dodgers, .519

3 at Chicago Cubs, .560

So the Orioles will play 25 of 28 games in May vs. .500 or better clubs as of Saturday afternoon with the only exception of their series at Kansas City to start the month. They will play 12 games versus clubs with current records of .600 or better.

The Rays will play all 29 games in May vs. .500 or better clubs and play 13 of those games against teams currently playing .600 or better ball.

May could be a telling month for both clubs and set the tone for the rest of the season in the AL East. Will either club play .500 or better against such a tough schedule?

We should be able to size up the standings at the end of this month and have a better idea as these teams near the 60-game mark of how the rest of the season might go.




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