Surging Orioles Sprint Into Wild Card Race With 10-Game Win Streak

Don’t look now, but the Baltimore Orioles are right in the thick of the Wild Card race. For a team with the lowest payroll in Major League Baseball, it’s a race they were never supposed to be in.

But the O’s didn’t get the memo. They are now over .500 (45-44) after rattling off their 10th-straight win on Wednesday night a feat they haven’t accomplished in more than 23 years.

Baltimore’s recent surge is nothing less than shocking, considering the team lost 110 games last year and didn’t earn its 45th win in 2021 until Sept. 8.

As of July 14, the O’s sit two games back in the Wild Card race, trailing the Boston Red Sox, the Toronto Blue Jays, and the Seattle Mariners, who hold the final three spots.

Not bad for a team that plays in a division they call the ‘AL Beast.’ Every team in the AL East is above .500 something that has only happened three times this late in the season before.

And they’ve done all of this without their ace John Means, who underwent Tommy John surgery earlier in the season.

With the O’s recent rise, DraftKings now has their odds of making the postseason at +1000 (Yes) and -3500 (No).

Orioles fans can place their MLB bets at five Maryland casinos while the state waits for mobile betting apps.

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What’s Behind the Resurgence?

Since first-overall draft pick Adley Rutschman joined the team on May 21, the O’s are 29-20. That’s the same record as the NL East-leading New York Mets and better than Rays, Blue Jays, Padres, Cardinals, Brewers, and Phillies.

While Rutschman doesn’t have an eye-popping slash line (.216/.302/.399), perhaps he was the spark needed to breathe new life into the clubhouse.

But it’s been timely hitting and strong pitching that has propelled the Orioles into the limelight. Over the 10-game win streak, the O’s have hit .263 and scored 5.2 runs per game.

There have been some clutch moments along the way, like back-to-back walk-off wins on July 4 and 5 against the Rangers, followed by a three-run ninth inning on July 8 to oust the Angels.

The starters and bullpen have shined during the streak as well. Over the past 10 games, starters have gone 7-0 with a sparkling 3.02 ERA. Going deep into games and giving the offense a chance to win games has been paramount to the O’s success.

And when they do get the lead late, the bullpen has been rock solid. The pen has allowed 11 runs during the 10-game win streak, led by All-Star Jorge Lopez (1.70 ERA, 17 SV) and Cionel Perez (0.90 ERA).

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Can the O’s Keep Rolling?

No one expected this kind of season from the Orioles, so at this point, they’re playing with house money. The team’s $32.7 million payroll is less than Max Scherzer’s annual salary, and with expectations low, the team is playing loose.

But don’t expect the O’s to be content now that they’ve had a little success. The team has bigger aspirations, as reported by the Baltimore Sun.

“The end goal is not to be .500,” first baseman Trey Mancini said. “The organization has much bigger aspirations down the road. I think everybody’s focused on that. We’re enjoying every day, but we’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves.”

Next up for Baltimore is a pivotal three-game set in Tampa Bay. And if all goes well, the O’s could be sitting in a Wild Card spot by next week’s All-Star break. Things are looking up in Birdland.

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

About the Author

Ryan Hagen

Ryan Hagen is a freelance writer for Maryland Sharp. He’s spent most of his career writing in roles that have ranged from copywriter at a boutique ad agency to corporate communications at a large oil firm. His true passion is sports, and he’s now been writing in the sports gaming industry for the last couple of years. He enjoys sports betting and usually bets a little too much when he loses and not quite enough when he wins.