Baltimore sweeps Oakland, back in Playoff hunt

Maybe I need to stop writing about the Baltimore Orioles for a while.

It seems like every time I write about their most recent upswing, the team slumps immediately.

After an important home stand that seemed to put the Orioles on the right track, the team went the opposite side of the country where they normally do not play all that well. The trend continued.

Baltimore was 4-5 on its West Coast trip, winning its first series against the Oakland Athletics before dropping its next two series against the Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners.

Not only did the team have a losing record on the road, but they even were victim of Hisashi Iwakuma‘s no-hitter as part of a 3-0 loss in the series finale against the Mariners.

Since then, staying consistent with their up-and-down season, the Orioles have done nothing but win – sweeping a four-game series against the A’s in Camden Yards. And they didn’t just win the four games, they won each in exciting fashion.

Manny Machado hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 13th inning Friday night to win the game 8-6, and the following night Chris Davis‘ second home run ended the game in the bottom of the ninth 4-3.

Sunday the Orioles didn’t need late-inning heroics thanks to a four-run second inning and, in case that wasn’t enough, added nine runs in the fifth. Baltimore put up 18 runs on 26 hits offensively, giving starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen more than enough run support in the Orioles 18-2 victory.

Last night Chris Tillman out-dueled Sonny Gray on the mound, while the Orioles’ two catchers – Caleb Joseph and Steve Clevenger – supplied all the offense, driving in each of the four runs with two outs. Joseph doubled home a run in the bottom of the sixth, two innings after Clevenger homered in the fourth to give Baltimore a 3-1 lead.

As it has been the past few seasons for the Orioles, the long ball was on display all series long against the A’s, and continue to be a large portion of the offensive production.

Baltimore hit 10 home runs through the first three games of the series, blasting three balls over the fences Friday and Saturday, and then capping the weekend with four homers on Sunday.

Davis currently sits second in the MLB in home runs (34) and leads all of baseball in RBIs (89). The Orioles slugger has hit 15 home runs and driven in 37 runs in 29 games since the All-Star break.

The Orioles once again are five games over .500 with a 61-56 record, and are now in sole possession of the second Wild Card spot in the American League. If the regular season ended today three teams from the AL East, including Baltimore, would make it to the postseason, with the other two teams being the Yankees and Blue Jays.

Looking ahead, Baltimore continues its current home stand with a two-game series against the New York Mets starting today, and then will play a four-game set against the struggling Minnesota Twins.

New York is scheduled to pitch Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, two of the best young pitchers in the game.

It is important for the Orioles to finish the home stand strong considering they will then go on the road to Kansas City to play one of the best teams in baseball, the Royals.

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