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Orioles' Wild-Card Chances Getting Slimmer

September 11, 2017
Buck Showalter likes to say "September is an eternity." For the Orioles manager, September has been his kindest month. In seven Septembers as the team's skipper, Showalter has never had a losing one, but through nine games this month, things aren't looking positive for the Orioles.
The Orioles began September on a high, with a nerve-racking, 1-0, win in 13 innings against the Toronto Blue Jays for their eighth win in nine games.

The eight games since have been difficult, however. The Orioles are 3-6 in September, and each of their wins has been in their last turn at-bat: the 13-inning win Sept. 1, a 12-inning win Sept. 3, and a late-night win on third baseman Manny Machado's two-run home Sept. 5 that gave them a 7-6 win against the New York Yankees.
After the Sept. 3 game, the Orioles were 70-67, their best mark since June 9, but after the Cleveland Indians swept them in three games Sept. 8-10, they're below .500 (71-72) again.
With 19 games remaining, the Orioles are three games behind the Minnesota Twins for the second wild-card spot, and they trail the wild-card leading Yankees by 6.5 games.
Not only are they trailing the Yankees, Twins and Los Angeles Angels, but they've slipped in back of the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers and are tied with the Seattle Mariners.
FanGraphs gives the Orioles a 4.2 percent chance of winning a wild-card berth. ESPN calculates their odds at 3.8 percent.
In order to pull off the improbable, the Orioles are probably going to have to win, say 14 or 15 of their final 19 games and hope the other wild-card contenders lose regularly. They don't have any games left with the Twins, Angels, Royals, Rangers or Mariners.
In getting swept by the Indians, who extended their winning streak to 18 games -- the longest in the majors in 15 years -- the Orioles managed a total of four runs in the three games, their weakest output since scoring three runs against the Milwaukee Brewers July 3-5.
In nine September games, the Orioles have a .220 average and a woeful .260 OBP.
Their starting pitching hasn't helped much. The starters have a 6.05 ERA in September. Fortunately for the Orioles, their relievers have kept them at least somewhat competitive, with a 2.91 ERA.
Twelve of the Orioles' final 19 games are on the road, where they have a 27-42 record. None of the teams tied or ahead of them in the wild-card race has lost more than 39 road games.
The Orioles will play three in Toronto beginning Sept. 11 and four at Yankee Stadium (Sept. 14-17) before returning home for three games with the Boston Red Sox (Sept. 18-20) and four against the Tampa Bay Rays(Sept. 21-24.)

The Orioles conclude the season at the Pittsburgh Pirates (Sept. 26-27) and Tampa Bay (Sept. 29-Oct. 1).
NOTES: The Orioles have outrighted left-handed pitcher Jayson Aquino to Triple-A Norfolk. He was designated for assignment when shortstop J.J. Hardy was reinstated from the 60-day disabled list. Hardy did not play in any of the weekend games. … Both Double-A Bowie and Class-A Frederick's seasons ended Sept. 9 when each was eliminated from the postseason. Because of Hurricane Irma, the Carolina League canceled its championship round. Had the Keys beaten Lynchburg, they would have been declared league co-champion. … The Orioles have used 49 players this season, their most since 2013 when 52 played.

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox