Reporting Jerry Coleman
The Orioles begin what could be a “decisive road trip” this week, being just two games out of the second wild card spot chasing Tampa Bay and Oakland. Every contest is vital for the Orioles. Not just winning a series but also trying to fit a three game sweep in there somewhere because this is a team which has not put together a win streak of more than 5 games, all season. The sense of urgency is there and is being felt is the clubhouse, Outfielder Nate Mclouth said, “To be 10 or 11 games over five hundred and not have a winning streak longer than five games it’s kind of odd, we’ve have had losing streaks longer than our longest winning streak.” The players clearly understand that the road trip against Boston, New York and Cleveland is one that can be a momentum boost, and one that can determine if they’re headed back into the post season. As Manager Buck Showalter says, there are always “Highs and Lows” in the game of baseball and that is what separates the good teams from the great ones. At the time of this writing, the Bird’s are just 1 game off the pace.
Heading into this road trip will be a challenge for the team but one that they can certainly handle after winning their series against Oakland, they will be facing the division leaders of the American League East at Fenway starting Tuesday, because the team does have an off day before they start this grind of a trip. Is it a good thing of bad thing to have an off day after a series wins? Well, heading up to Boston third baseman Manny Machado admitted, “It is going to suck after the win we had, but we get off our feet and come back on Tuesday and play some baseball.” Momentum is as good as the next day’s pitcher and Wei-Yin Chen is going to be on the mound in the first game against the Red Sox. That’s good news, because in Chen’s last start he went seven strong innings giving up only two runs. And as Nick Markakis added, after his 1st HR in a month, “You have to win the first game of series to put yourself in position.”
That is what they did, and with this road trip it will truly test the team metal and physical strength to see if they are ready to be a playoff contender again, this year. The players know how crucial this next trip is and how much these games mean, they are not fools. Like left fielder Nate McLouth said “The reason why [these] games are important because it essentiality is a two game swing in the standings and even teams that are close bye, are right behind you, [these] are huge because if you win, they lose a game plus you gain a game, it’s a two game swing they are real important.”