Reporting Bob Haynie
If you are a contending team, all series at this point in the season are big ones. For the Baltimore Orioles, that is certainly the case for this week.
After a mediocre 5 and 4 home stand, the Birds find themselves 5.5 games out of first place in the AL East and 2 games out of the second Wild Card spot.
Starting on Tuesday night, Baltimore begins a stretch of games –on the road– that could decide whether or not they will be playoff-worthy in 2013.
The first-place Boston Red Sox loom on Tuesday for a three-game set at Fenway. The Orioles are 25-12 in their 37 games against Boston and have won 9 of their last 11 series. To say that this would be the perfect time to make up some ground on the Red Sox, would be an understatement.
After Fenway, the Orioles then hit the road to face New York at Yankee Stadium. Even though the Birds are 7 and 5 against the Bombers this season, they are only 2 and 4 at The Stadium. New York has won 7 of their last 10 games and are breathing down the necks of Buck Showalter and crew.
The Orioles close out the road trip in Cleveland against the surprising Indians led by manager Terry Francona. Baltimore is currently a half-game game behind Cleveland in the Wild Card standings. The Tribe has won 9 of 13 and are extremely tough at Progressive Field.
When the Orioles and Indians met at Camden Yards in June, the teams split a four-game series.
Needless to say, the next nine games are critical for the Orioles as they continue their quest to return to the postseason.
Will they return to Camden Yards on September 5th in the heat of a pennant race? Or will they come back to a disappointed home crowd upset that the Ravens are playing in Denver and not M&T Bank Stadium.
We will have our answer soon enough.