Orioles

Orioles

SAN FRANCISCO—Forty-five games remain after one of the most improbable wins in recent Orioles history. Against an excellent team, the Orioles scored seven runs in the final three innings on Sunday to score the 8-7 win. 

One game shouldn’t mean all that much, but it can show Orioles fans that there are five reasons the team could be getting ready for an extended October run. 

1) The team has many offensive weapons

Everyone expected the Orioles to score often, and they have. They thought the team would hit lots of home runs, and it has. 

The team, however, is full of players whose skill sets are more complete than might have been imagined at the beginning of the season. 

Jonathan Schoop, who has played every game this season, is hitting .282, and is just two home runs away from 20. 

Mark Trumbo, the major leagues’ home run leader with 34, was in a dreadful post All-Star Game slump, and he looks to be out of it. 

Adam Jones was in a dreadful slump at the end of May, has boosted his batting average nearly 50 points to .276 since being elevated to leadoff. 

2) The starting pitching may be better than people think

Chris Tillman is 15-4. It’s not often that a starter is more than 10 games over .500, and with perhaps nine starts remaining, he could become the Orioles’ first 20 game winner since 1984.

Dylan Bundy has won six games, and has shown evidence that he’s going to be a bona fide major league frontliner. 

 

While Kevin Gausman has lost 10 games, the Orioles haven’t lost faith in him, and they’re confident he and Bundy could be a good pairing for years to come. 

Yovani Gallardo has improved markedly since returning from two months on the disabled list, and yes, Wade Miley has struggled, but if the team gets into the postseason, a fifth starter isn’t needed then because of off days. 

3) The bullpen can compensate for the loss of Darren O’Day 

O’Day will be out at least two weeks, and the Orioles have shown they can pitch without him if needed. 

Zach Britton’s role is no different than it was when O’Day was active, and Brad Brach continues to pile up wins. He has a remarkable ability to be at the right place at the right time. 

Brach and Mychal Givens have combined for a 15-2 record this year, and are a remarkable 29-6 in their Orioles careers. 

Donnie Hart hasn’t allowed a run in five appearances so far this year. 

4) Most of the acquisitions have done well, and maybe there will be more

Gallardo, Trumbo, Pedro Alvarez, Hyun Soo Kim, Joey Rickard and Vance Worley were Dan Duquette’s principal additions for this year, and they’ve generally done well. 

Alvarez had a rough first two months, but he has 18 home runs. Kim struggled in spring training, but has shown himself to be a consistent on-base performer in the regular season. Rickard was a useful fourth outfielder and capable defender before he went to the disabled list. 

Worley has been an effective swingman. 

Miley and Steve Pearce were Duquette’s nonwaiver trading deadline additions, and they could be joined by others in the coming days. 

Duquette could add another reliever if he thinks O’Day is going to be out longer than two weeks or he could pick up another left-hander if the team doesn’t think Hart is good enough. 
They may also try and add another outfielder. In 2014, Duquette picked up outfielder Alejandro De Aza and infielder Kelly Johnson just before the Sept. 1 deadline, and they came in handy. Expect another addition or two. 

5) The schedule now favors the Orioles

After completing their longest road trip of the season with a 5-5 record, they play 25 of their final 45 at home. 

Their two principal opponents for the AL East, Toronto and Boston both play more of their remaining games on the road than at home. 

No trip is out of the Eastern time zone, and if they can continue playing well at home, they should be fine. 

The Orioles have a wonderful 39-17 record in Baltimore, and in the final seven weeks of the season, they play each of the AL East teams at home-including six games with Boston as well as Houston, Washington and Arizona. 

 

There are no more road games in the AL West where the Orioles somehow managed to lose 14 of 18. 

Each time this team has gone into a mini-slump, it has broken out of it, and while there will be bumps remaining, the guess here is that this team will not only win the American League East, but be a worthy challenger for the right to play in their first World Series since 1983.