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Orioles fans used to only dream about exciting weekends like this 

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Could this weekend be a World Series preview as Philadelphia visits Oriole Park at Camden Yards? 

Yes, I said it and embrace the possibility. As someone born two weeks before Orioles lefty Scott McGregor shut out the Phillies to clinch Baltimore’s third world championship 41 years ago, maybe I’m a bit nostalgic, but these are also two of the three best teams in baseball at the moment. And after hosting the Fall Classic six times from 1966 through 1983, Baltimore is long overdue to host World Series baseball with Camden Yards now being 32 years old. 

It’s the kind of weekend Orioles fans used to only dream about — even if there’s sure to be thousands of Philadelphia fans making the trip down I-95 as well. In the midst of the buzz, you probably haven’t even noticed Brandon Hyde’s club being on the verge of matching its 2018 season win total (47) three weeks out from the Fourth of July. 

Have you seen these postseason-quality pitching matchups? 

Kyle Bradish against Ranger Suarez on Friday. 

Corbin Burnes and Zack Wheeler to conclude the weekend.  

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We’ve come a long way from the days of watching — or perhaps not watching — Dan Straily, Yefry Ramirez, and Aaron Brooks on the bump at Camden Yards. 

With plenty of star power on both sides, it’s a shame none of these games will be nationally televised, but I guess there’s no competing with Yankees-Red Sox if you’re FOX and ESPN. The rest of the baseball world is missing out on Gunnar Henderson and Bryce Harper this weekend. 

Even after Thursday’s loss to Atlanta that snapped a season-high six-game winning streak, the Orioles remain on pace to win 107 games. That would surpass anything we’ve seen in these parts since Earl Weaver’s 1970 powerhouse that won 108 contests and the second World Series title in club history. Meanwhile, the Phillies have been the class of the National League since mid-April and are on track for 109 wins — which would set their franchise record — even after dropping two of three at Fenway Park. 

The Orioles enter Friday ranking first in baseball in runs scored per game (5.1) and third best in runs allowed per contest (3.53). Philadelphia ranks second in runs scored (5.07) and fourth in runs allowed (3.56) per game. (And for those peeking ahead to next week’s series in the Bronx, the Yankees rank third and first in those departments respectively.) 

The roster makeup and payrolls certainly differ, but there’s been nothing fluky about each team’s success. Three-digit run differentials in mid-June speak for themselves. 

The only knock on the Phillies has been their strength of schedule with just 12 games (8-4) against teams currently above .500, so this test could mean a touch more to Rob Thomson’s club in terms of perception. The Orioles enter Friday a robust 20-8 against clubs currently sporting winning records.

Yes, this is going to be a blast, which is something to appreciate in the midst of the inevitable nail-biting. I’m guilty of regularly pointing toward October, but there will still be 3 1/2 months of regular-season baseball to play at the end of the series, no matter the outcome.

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This weekend is a reminder to enjoy the journey. And while the series serves as a measuring stick for both clubs, three games in June won’t make or break either team. Next week’s three-game tilt at Yankee Stadium carries more weight for the division race, of course, but the same holds true for that one. 

A 6-0 mark over the next week would result in the Orioles being dubbed the best team in baseball while a nightmare 0-6 would signal the end of the world in some minds. But we know either extreme — and the more likely outcomes in between — would only mean so much, especially in the era of multiple wild-card spots and short postseason series.  

As terrific as this club has been, I can’t help but feel the Yankees being slightly better has zapped a little bit of the enjoyment out of a 45-23 start, which is understandable with the desire to win the division. Consider that the Orioles have gone a very impressive 16-5 since being swept in St. Louis last month and have gained just a half-game in the AL East standings in the process. If someone had told you in March that Baltimore would be playing .662 ball entering this three-game set with the Phillies, I doubt you’d have anticipated that meaning second place. 

Enjoy what the Orioles have become and where they’re going. 

There haven’t been very many of these super heavyweight series over the history of Camden Yards. 

This very well could be a preview of late October. 

That alone is reason for excitement before the first pitch is even thrown on Friday night. 

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