With their loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday night, the Orioles are now four games back in the American League East. That’s the most they’ve trailed all season, which explains the emptiness you’re feeling today in the spot where your soul once resided. Or maybe that’s just me.
Four games back in August doesn’t have to feel awful. In fact, it probably shouldn’t. It simply depends where you started from and whether you’ve surged or scuffled your way to your current location. The Orioles have scuffled.
For a team like the Royals, who are further off the pace in the A.L. Central than the O’s are in the East and who have a worse record overall, things feel better for their fans because the team is surging. (It’s also not bad to have a World Series victory in your back pocket.)
After three losing months, including a 7-19 July, the Royals have enjoyed a nine-game win streak in August as part of a 19-7 month headed into Monday night’s action. But enough about them. Seriously, enough. Except for this one last thing: The Royals’ winning percentage at this point in the season is nearly equivalent that of the 1996 Orioles at the same point in the ’96 season.
Wanna guess how many games back the 1996 Orioles were in the division on this date? That’s right, four games. How did things feel back then? Much better. And why? Because the Orioles were surging.
After an 11-16 July, the ’96 Orioles went 19-11 in August, matched their longest winning streak of the season at five games, and had cut a 12-game division deficit on July 28 by two-thirds in one month’s time. Four games back on Aug. 30 felt pretty darn good in 1996, and there was only one wild card for the taking.
Four games back in the division and holding the lead for the second wild card spot isn’t a bad place to be at all. It only feels that way because the Orioles, who were so much better than expected in the season’s first half, are scuffling now.