Time is now for Orioles to strike

The Baltimore Orioles (41-30) have held at least a share of the lead in the American League East every day since June 5.

Despite holding the advantage in the division for nearly the entire month, Baltimore hasn’t been able to distance itself from the pack, having never led by more than two games over second-place Boston.

With three weeks left until Major League Baseball’s All-Star break, right now is the time for the O’s to begin to run away with the AL East.

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Mark Trumbo (45) goes through a line of teammates in the dugout after crossing home plate Wednesday. Trumbo has been one of the many consistent bats in the Orioles lineup this year.   Photo by Patrick Semansky / Associated Press

As a whole, the AL East hasn’t been playing its best baseball as of late, with only Toronto playing to a better than .500 record (6-4) over its last 10 games entering play Friday night. And even though the Blue Jays have been getting some national attention as they have started to heat up, it’s been Baltimore that has played to the best record in the month of June at 14-8.

Not only has Buck Showalter’s club taken care of business overall this month, his team has also been successful playing against teams inside the division.

The Orioles are 10-6 against AL East teams in June, and with Friday’s win against the Tampa Bay Rays they have now won five out of their last seven games against divisional opponents.

Tampa Bay, on the other hand, has now lost its last eight games in a row and are just 9-12 in games this month.

With the Orioles playing the struggling Rays and the Boston Red Sox currently taking on the best team in the AL, the Texas Rangers, Baltimore has a chance to increase it’s lead in the division.

Not only that, but the O’s have a favorable schedule until the All-Star break.

Including Friday’s game against the Rays, nine of Baltimore’s 16 remaining games in the first half of the season are against teams with losing records.

However, it should be noted that Tuesday the team will start a nine-game road trip on the west coast, bookended by facing San Diego and starting pitcher Erik Johnson (0-5) to start and then ending with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw (11-1)

Even though historically the west coast hasn’t been the friendliest place for the Orioles, they can take comfort in the fact that the other contenders in the division have tougher schedules.

Starting with Boston, entering play on Friday six of its remaining 15 games before the break are against the Rangers. And even though another six of its games are against the Rays, Boston is just 2-6 against divisional opponents this month.

Toronto, which following Friday’s loss sits 3 ½ games back in the division, has a very tough schedule ahead. Eleven of their next 18 games put the Blue Jays up against the top three teams in the AL Central, and they also have to face Chris Sale Sunday.

New York is six games behind the Orioles and, barring a long string of wins over the next month or so, will likely be sellers at the trade deadline.

Given how the Yankee’s have fared, that’s the direction it looks like they’ll be going.

Joe Girardi’s team is 12-9 in the month of June, but is also just 1-3 against teams inside the division, and just 3-5 against teams with a winning record.

With eleven of the Yankees remaining 17 games of the first half of the season being against above-.500 teams, it could be a rough road to the All-Star game for the Yanks.

 

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Manny Machado watches his solo home run leave the yard in his first game back from suspension Friday night against Tampa Bay. The Orioles won 6-3 thanks, in part, to Machado’s long ball.   Photo by Gail Burton / Associated Press

With the Orioles being one of the best hitting teams in all of baseball, and the Orioles bullpen being amongst the top of the American League, the time is now for Buck Showalter’s club take hold of the AL East division.

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