The Orioles are battling through their toughest stretch of the season with seven games against the first place New York Yankees, three with the Houston Astros and three with the Boston Red Sox.
Much of the success against these playoff-caliber teams will hinge on pitching.
So far, the results have not been positive.
The Orioles dropped their opening two games to the Yankees, 9-6 and 9-4. New York has hit a mesmerizing 11 home runs during the two games, extending their major-league single-season record for most by a visiting team in one ballpark to 38. The Milwaukee Braves set the previous record in 1957 with 29 homers at Crosley Field (Cincinnati).
The Yankees managed to accomplish that feat without sluggers Giancarlo Stanton and Edwin Encarnación. Infielder Gleyber Torres was pulled from the Aug. 6 game after two at-bats. New York has also won 14 consecutive games at Camden Yards, its longest winning streak at an opponent's stadium.
"It sucks," Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. "It's not even the big boys, either, which is pretty scary. They have a ton of power that's not even in their lineup and they've hit 11 home runs in two nights without Stanton and Edwin and Gleyber has got the side issue. So the other guys are hitting homers off our pitchers. It just shows you how long we have to go to be a competitive team in the American League East, and to have the pitching to be able to compete.
"Their guys are just way better than our guys."
Indeed, the Orioles had gone won 10 of their last 17 games heading into this series, but the Yankees showed them how far they still have to go with their rebuild.
Orioles pitchers have struggled to keep the ball in the park, which has been a season-long trend.
In the 9-6 loss Aug. 5, Gabriel Ynoa made his first start since June 30 and allowed four runs and five hits, including two homers, during 4.2 innings. Lefty Paul Fry (1-4) took the loss after allowing three runs and three hits in two-thirds of an inning.
The following day, right-hander Asher Wojciechowski (2-5) took the loss after he allowed six and five runs, including three homers, during 4 innings. Righty David Hess also allowed a pair of home runs in the ninth inning and his ERA is 7.42.
The Orioles have allowed 229 home runs and are on pace to shatter the MLB record for homers in a season.
"This is a results business," Hyde said. "If you're going to pitch here, you've got to be able to keep the ball in the ballpark. Our numbers don't lie. We just have a long way to go. I don't know what else to say. It's hard to watch."
The road doesn't get any easier with three games against the Astros beginning Aug. 9. Houston is perhaps the best team in the MLB and is the current favorite to win the World Series at 2:1.
Despite the discrepancy in talent, Hyde wants to see his players continue to compete.
"This is August, playing against really good teams and there's nothing better than that for me," he said. "Take it as a challenge. I want our guys to take it as a challenge. I want our guys to play to win and compete like they've been doing and not back down from anybody and play hard. We're playing teams that have improved from the deadline, that are playing for something, and that's a feeling that I can't wait to have in that room in there, is playing for an opportunity to play deep into October. So we have nothing to lose.
"We're just trying to improve and we're just trying to compete, and these guys are playing for different things than we are right now. I want to match that intensity and not back down from anything."