With streak still in tow, Orioles can reveal even more about themselves over next 10 games

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“Can’t you even let me enjoy the moment?”

“The moment’s over.”

That dugout exchange between Nuke LaLoosh and Crash Davis in “Bull Durham” is such an authentic glimpse into the baseball psyche, which the Orioles must channel to try to continue the 10-game winning streak that’s elevated them above .500 for the first time all season. The good teams are never too high or too low for very long in a sport that requires one to turn the page quickly. 

The next win or loss is usually only a tomorrow away.

While Thursday’s day off provided a pause to enjoy the excitement of the sweep at Wrigley Field to continue the 12th double-digit winning streak in Orioles history and longest single-season one since 1999, the next challenge comes quickly with a three-game set at Tampa Bay followed by the All-Star break and a seven-game homestand against the New York Yankees and the Rays. Whether you’re beginning to really believe these upstart Orioles are for real or not, the next 10 games should tell us more about their status as wild-card contenders after three sweeps against sub-.500 clubs, especially with the trade deadline only 2 1/2 weeks away. 

Such a referendum should be fine for both optimists truly buying these Orioles and those bracing for a fall back to reality with 49 of the 73 remaining games coming against teams holding winning records. If they’re for real — in the serious playoff contender sense — and want to make the Aug. 2 deadline even more captivating, the Orioles will at least hold their own against the top two teams in the AL East in a very important stretch of games. If they go 3-7, fans pump the brakes and general manager Mike Elias proceeds with a clear conscience in moving a veteran or two to improve the club for the future, which should remain the true compass even if Baltimore becomes a “buyer” in any sense. Even if the Orioles win 20 straight, trading any prospect of consequence for a player who isn’t under club control for at least 2023 would be very shortsighted, which isn’t Elias’ style.   

Either way, fans can appreciate the Orioles being fun and much improved, which was becoming more evident even before these last 10 games. And while it’s tough to be confident that a starting rotation currently featuring Spenser Watkins and Austin Voth will hold up and not place too much strain on an overachieving bullpen, some factors are working in Baltimore’s favor. 


The Orioles entered Thursday slightly below average in runs scored and slightly above average in run prevention with the latter number thanks in large part to being tied for fourth in the majors in defensive runs saved. The excellent defense — especially up the middle and across the outfield — has helped make a good bullpen look great and an undermanned rotation surprisingly competitive.

Despite no one in the everyday lineup being in the midst of a career year at the plate, upside remains, especially with rookie catcher Adley Rutschman getting further acclimated to the majors and the likes of outfielder Kyle Stowers and infielders Jordan Westburg and Gunnar Henderson only a call away at Triple-A Norfolk. And even a rotation that will need to limit Tyler Wells’ innings down the stretch can turn to some combination of DL Hall, Kyle Bradish, and Bruce Zimmermann for a potential lift. None of the aforementioned names are sure things for various reasons, of course, but neither was a club that’s currently 45-44.

Perhaps the most convincing argument for the Orioles to be able to remain in wild-card contention is the current state of the rest of their division and the rest of the AL. No one is catching the first-place Yankees for the AL East, of course, but Tampa Bay continues to be hammered by injuries, Boston has been scuffling for a couple weeks now, and Toronto just fired its manager. Beyond that, Seattle has needed a 10-game winning streak of its own and the remaining wild-card hopefuls in the AL Central and West don’t profile much differently from the Orioles right now. This is exactly what baseball had in mind when expanding the playoff field to three wild-card teams per league.

To borrow a phrase from yesteryear, “Why Not?” What we’re witnessing is the beauty of baseball’s unknown.

Yes, we’re very likely getting ahead of ourselves with a still-rebuilding team that didn’t win its 45th game until Sept. 8 last season. But that 2021 club won no more than three in a row at any point — not to mention suffering through losing streaks of 14 and 19 games — while this one has played respectable baseball since early May and really good baseball over the last month. Winning 10 straight games has revitalized a fan base that’s been miserable or completely disengaged in recent years.

These next 10 games should tell us more about their chances, and it’s fun just being able to say that at the All-Star break.

Like Crash Davis reminded his inexperienced pitcher, you can never get too satisfied, but beating the Rays and Yankees would increase those slim — but very much alive — playoff chances and instill even more belief, which is saying something after the excitement of these last two weeks.

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