And then there were six. Six games remaining in the 2023 regular season. If the Orioles can just go 3-3 in those games, they can clinch the American League East title without any help from a Rays loss.
Three wins would also produce the sixth 100-win season in Orioles history. The 1969 team went 109-53 for the best O’s record ever in the regular season. The 1970 team was 108-54 with the 1979 club going 102-57. In 1971, the Orioles were 101-57. They were 100-62 in 1980.
The 1980 club was the last O’s team to win 100 games. And while the first four to do it all made the World Series, the 1980 Orioles, while they had the second-best record in the majors, did not even make the playoffs.
With their next win, No. 98, the 2023 Orioles would join seven other O’s clubs to win 98 or more games. The 1997 team was the last to win that many, going 98-64.
The O’s magic number is three as the final homestand begins tonight with two games versus the Nationals and four versus the Red Sox.
Chasing 800 runs: A team scoring 800 runs has had a pretty good offensive year. That means that club scored just under 5.00 runs per game, a solid number. Through Sunday’s games, seven major league clubs averaged 5.00 or more runs per game:
* 5.83 – Braves
* 5.61 – Dodgers
* 5.55 – Rangers
* 5.24 – Rays
* 5.13 – Astros
* 5.08 – Orioles, Cubs
A team needs to score 810 runs for the year, over 162 games, to average 5.00 for the full season.
The 2023 Orioles have scored 793 runs and need seven more to become the eighth O’s team to post 800 or more:
* 1996 – 949
* 1999 – 851
* 2004 – 842
* 1985 – 818
* 1998 – 817
* 1997 – 812
* 1980 – 805
O’s and the AL East: The Orioles are closing in on an AL East title and one of many reasons for that is they have played well within the division this year, going 30-18 (.625). It will be the first time they have a winning record in AL East games since 2016. If they at least split the four upcoming games with Boston, they will post a winning record over every other AL East team for the first time since 2014.
That season they went 13-6 against the Yankees, 12-7 versus the Rays and 11-8 against both the Red Sox and Blue Jays. This year they have gone 10-3 versus the Blue Jays, 8-5 against the Rays, 7-6 against the Yankees and are 5-4 versus the Red Sox with those four to play.
The O’s AL East records since the 2014 season:
* 2014: 47-29 (.618)
* 2015: 39-37 (.513)
* 2016: 40-36 (.526)
* 2017: 37-39 (.487)
* 2018: 23-53 (.303)
* 2019: 24-52 (.316)
* 2020: 14-26 (.350)
* 2021: 20-56 (.263)
* 2022: 34-42 (.447)
Holliday honored: For the second year in a row and third time since the award's first year in 1981, the Orioles produced the Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year.
Matt Wieters won it in 2008, Gunnar Henderson in 2022 and Jackson Holliday this year.
Holliday, currently the consensus No. 1 ranked prospect in the sport, has played in 125 games this year over four levels, starting at Single-A Delmarva, moving to High-A Aberdeen and Double-A Bowie and now with Triple-A Norfolk.
Between the Shorebirds, IronBirds, Baysox and Tides, he has hit .323/.442/.499/.941 with 30 doubles, nine triples, 12 homers, 24 steals, 154 hits, 113 runs and 75 RBIs.
Playoffs tonight: The Orioles have to wait for their postseason to begin, but Norfolk tonight hosts Durham in its first playoff game since 2015.
The teams won the first and second halves of the International League season. For the year, Norfolk went 90-59 and Durham 88-62.
It's a best-of-three series with all games at Norfolk's Harbor Park.
In Game 1 tonight, lefty Bruce Zimmermann (4-7, 4.42 ERA) will pitch against righty Cooper Criswell (4-4, 3.93 ERA).
The Tides went 15-6 against Durham this year, a club that has won the last two IL championships.