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Why the Yankees will be the Orioles' toughest opponents in a 60-game season

Why the Yankees will be the Orioles' toughest opponents in a 60-game season

The Orioles’ schedule for a 60-game season hasn’t been released yet, but they at least know who their opponents will be this summer. 

And to be frank, it isn’t a very friendly schedule. 

The Orioles will face the four other teams in the AL East a total of 40 times (10 each) and then the NL East for a total of 20 times — though it’s unclear if those games will be split evenly.

So, the Orioles will face the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays and Blue Jays 10 times each, while they’ll play the Nationals, Braves, Mets, Phillies and Marlins an undetermined amount of games.

Of the nine teams the Orioles will face this summer, four made the playoffs last season — two of which made the League Championship Series. Just two (the Blue Jays and Marlins) had a record below .500 last season.

According to FanGraphs, the latest ZiPS projection system gives the Orioles the toughest strength of schedule in baseball. The same projection estimates the Orioles will go 19-41 and finish 18 games behind the first-place Yankees. 

That record would give the Orioles the worst record in the sport and the No. 1 pick in the 2021 MLB Draft. 

Baltimore went 2-17 against New York last season, and allowed a whopping 151 runs throughout the season series. Faced with 10 games, in a shortened season, against the Yankees is likely to lead to an incredibly lopsided season series once again. 

In fact, against the five teams on the Orioles’ schedule this season that they played last year, they posted a 26-54 record — a win percentage of just .325. 

RELATED: WHAT DOES 60-GAME SEASON MEAN FOR ORIOLES?

The Orioles were worse against their division than they were the rest of the league last year, meaning honing in on inter-divisional games isn’t a benefit for the Orioles. 

The Yankees are of course one of the best teams in baseball, but the Rays’ pitching staff and Red Sox’ bats won’t be an easy problem to solve for a depleted Orioles pitching staff. 

And while the AL East presents problems of its own, the NL East’s top four teams should be highly competitive as well.

The Orioles will likely have at least four games against the defending World Series champion Nationals, and perhaps more, depending on the schedule that gets released by the league. 

Either way, the Orioles are set to have to deal with a loaded Nationals starting rotation. And if all the games against the Nationals are played back-to-back, they’re guaranteed to face Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg — and likely both in a four-game series. 

The Braves’ lineup with Ronald Acuna Jr., Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna will serve up its own problems, as will the Phillies’ young lineup centered around Bryce Harper. 

With the Blue Jays and Marlins looking improved from just a season ago, it’s not unreasonable to say the Orioles were given the worst restart situation in the league. 

    Leaving aside the fact that Baltimore will lose out on valuable development time for its young roster, it has also been put behind the eight-ball in terms of a shortened season. 

    Even though it might lead to another No. 1 overall pick next summer, this has the makings of a long short-season for the Orioles. 

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    On This Day in History: Cal Ripken Makes His Orioles Debut

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    USA Today

    On This Day in History: Cal Ripken Makes His Orioles Debut

    The Orioles organization forever changed 39 years ago today, as Cal Ripken, Jr. made his Major League debut at Memorial Stadium on August 10, 1981.

    A work stoppage had interrupted the 1981 season, causing the cancellation of 38% of the MLB schedule that year. When play resumed, Baltimore called up its 2nd round pick from the 1978 draft, and Ripken immediately made an impact (on the base paths!)

    “Wow, 39 years went by fast!” Ripken wrote on Monday. “I still remember getting the news and driving to Baltimore from Rochester.. what an exciting time. Scored the winning run against the Royals as a pinch runner too. Great memory!”

    Cal was inserted as a pinch runner for Ken Singleton in the 12th inning against the Royals and would come around to score on a single by John Lowenstein. It was the first of 1,647 runs he would score over his 21-year career with the O’s. Ripken would get his first big league start the two days later in the 2nd game of a doubleheader against Kansas City and would appear in 23 total games that season. His historic consecutive games streak would not begin until May 30th, 1982 and would continue all the way until September 19, 1998.

    The Ironman’s resume speaks for itself: Rookie of the Year in 1982, World Series champion in 1983, 2-time MVP, 2-time Gold Glover, 8-time Silver Slugger and a 19-time All-Star selection. That Hall-of-Fame career began 39 years ago today as a pinch runner in the 12th inning.

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    Astros and Athletics clear benches, have a very non-socially distant brawl

    Astros and Athletics clear benches, have a very non-socially distant brawl

    Even amid the coronavirus pandemic, the normalities of a baseball season will continue on. That means players and managers getting heated, arguments with umpires and benches clearing. But because of the risk the virus poses, MLB has asked for those moments to remain socially distant.

    The Houston Astros and Oakland Athletics did not follow that rule on Sunday.

    After Athletics outfielder Ramon Laureano was hit by a pitch, he appeared to be exchanging words with a Houston bench coach. With no fans, the words can be heard loud and clear by everybody. That led to both benches clearing and not even six inches of separation between players. 

    It's understandable for players to get angry and caught up in the moment, but this move by both teams is rather unacceptable given the current climate of the country and the sport. Though players are being tested constantly, this close contact between teams is unnecessary and only creates a larger risk for all involved.

    The non-socially distant brawl comes at a bad time for baseball, as the league is dealing with numerous coronavirus-related issues. The St. Louis Cardinals have had at least 15 games postponed due to an outbreak within the organization, and that comes just after the Miami Marlins dealt with the same problem as well. Cleveland Indians pitcher Zach Plesac was reportedly sent home on Sunday after breaking protocol and going out with friends in Chicago on Saturday night.

    Despite tightening up regulations for players, MLB still faces daily challenges while trying to operate a season during a global pandemic. Moments like the brawl between the Athletics and Astros don't help.

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