What word would you use to describe the 2016 Orioles season to this point?
Unlikely comes to mind for me. Uneven applies as well. Let’s throw unpredictable in the mix.
Should the O’s actually finish things out and win the division, well, then we can push all the other possibilities aside and settle on unbelievable as our adjective of choice.
It’s not like the Orioles haven’t been here before.
On Sept. 15, 2012, the O’s were 81-64, one game back of the Yankees in the division, and 2.5 games up for a wild card spot.
On Sept. 15, 1996, the O’s were 82-67 , 2.5 games back of the Yankees, and 2.5 games up in the wild card.
This year’s team is 80-65, one game back of the Red Sox, and two games in the clear for a wild card.
Nevertheless, things feel different this season, almost as if they haven’t been here before.
[For context, both of Baltimore’s recent division leaders were well in the clear by now. The 2014 Orioles held a 12.5 game lead and the 1997 team was up six, although they made things interesting down the stretch.]
It’s so difficult to get a handle on this team. These are the same guys, after all, who mashed their way to a division lead earlier this summer despite their starting rotation and who couldn’t win on the road. Now they’re winning a 1-0 pitching duel at Fenway Park in mid-September against perhaps baseball’s best lineup.
If one moment can help describe an entire season, in the same manner that Adam Jones’ lead-off homer in the bottom of the eighth inning versus the Yankees did on Sept. 6, 2012, this year’s Orioles will get a clutch, game-winning RBI from Caleb Joseph in the coming weeks as they chase the division title.
It would be unlikely, uneven, unpredictable, and unbelievable. Just like this team.