Entering Friday, the Baltimore Orioles were one-half game behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the final Wild Card spot. Friday also marked the first of a three-game series in Tampa between the Orioles and Rays. So, if Baltimore could win, it would be in playoff position. That’s exactly what happened.
The Orioles routed Tampa. Baltimore scored a run in the first two innings, then added one in the fifth and four in the sixth to go up 7-0. When the game ended, the Orioles were on the right side of a 10-3 final score and sat a half-game ahead of the Rays for the third and final American League Wild Card spot.
It can’t be stated how surprising this is. Heading into 2022, the Orioles had an average record of 51-111 over the last three full MLB seasons (and were 25-35 in 2020). Baltimore was also 35-44 on July 2. So, while that’s not quite as bad as what the recent past had offered, there was nothing to suggest that the Orioles could become a postseason contender in 2022.
Naturally, the MLB world had a lot to say about the dramatic turnaround.
Orioles through 112 games
2019 38-74 26 games back of an AL Wild Card spot
2021 38-74 26 games back of an AL Wild Card spot
2022 59-53 In an AL Wild Card spot
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) August 13, 2022
Didn't the Orioles pick first in this year's draft? 😂 pic.twitter.com/sEdCh226Ub
— Codify (@CodifyBaseball) August 13, 2022
THE WILD CARD BALTIMORE ORIOLES pic.twitter.com/sx8YnF4iIG
— Jason Benowitz (@jbenowitz1831) August 13, 2022
And statement. The Orioles leapfrog the Rays and move into sole possession of the third Wild Card spot (and third place in the AL East). It sure felt like a game flipped from years past. Austin Voth was excellent.
The Orioles win, 10-3. They are 59-53.
— Zachary Silver (@zachsilver) August 13, 2022
There’s a lot of baseball left to be played and anything can happen. But this late in the year, the Orioles are absolutely a legitimate playoff contender. And for the fans in Baltimore — who have had to watch some terrible baseball over the last four years — there’s good reason to be excited.