With almost two weeks still remaining in the MLB regular season, and a double-digit game lead over the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees, the Baltimore Orioles had quickly sewn up the top spot in the American League East and a berth in this year’s MLB post-season.
While the Orioles began early preparations for their second trip to the playoffs in three years, it took their opponents, the Detroit Lions, much longer to lock up their spot in the American League Division Series.
Like the O’s, the Los Angeles Angels built a huge lead atop the AL West and finished the regular season with the best record in baseball.
However, with three teams in the hunt for top spot in the AL Central and five teams vying for two AL Wild Card positions, some playoff matchups were not determined until the final day of the MLB regular season.
While it is certain that the O’s will not face the Yankees or Blue Jays in the AL playoffs, there remain four other potential opponents they may face.
Entering the second half of September, the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals remained in a dogfight for top spot in the AL Central, with each club taking turns in the thick of the AL Wild Card race.
The Orioles have struggled against the Tigers this season. The two teams met in the first week of the season with Detroit winning two of three at home. The stage moved to Baltimore for a three-game set in May, where the O’s were swept, giving the Tigers five of six against the Orioles this season.
The Royals have won four of seven against the O’s this season, including two of three at Camden Yards. While the Royals have only just returned to playoff contention after several losing seasons, the Orioles have failed to dominate, posting a middling 24-23 record against the Royals in the six years prior to this season.
While the Oakland A’s have struggled enormously since owning the best record in baseball earlier this season, they have had little difficulty against Baltimore, winning four of six against the Orioles this year.
Perhaps the most welcome competition the Orioles COULD HAVE faced in the first round of the MLB Postseason would come from the Seattle Mariners.
The Orioles faced Seattle seven times over the course of 11 days in July and August, winning five, including three of four on the west coast. The O’s also won 10 of their previous 15 against the Mariners prior to this season, which encouraged Orioles fans to quietly cheer for the Mariners in their bid to win the AL Wild Card and earn the right to face Baltimore in the AL Division Series, starting on October 2.