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.
Every team in AL East is ABOVE .500 !!!
It's the 3rd season in Wild Card Era (excl. 2020) a division has had ALL of its teams above .500 on July 13 or later joining:
2012 AL East, JUST on 7/15
2005 NL East, multiple days
— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) July 14, 2022
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).
Small step forward: Maryland SWARC approves draft regulations for sports betting applications
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).
Wager in person: FanDuel opens retail sportsbook at Audi Field
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