It has been several years since American League Eastern Division rivals the Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees have been good in the same season. Although the team from Maryland won division honors in 2014, the Bronx Bombers were mediocre at best.
But this is a new year and conditions have changed. The Orioles, a team that tends to get off to slow starts did just that in its first ninety-one games. As the season’s second half begins, the Orioles, under manager Buck Showalter, are a pedestrian 46-45, in second place and a full four games behind the front-running Yankees who are 50-41.
The New Yorkers have been a huge surprise to this point. Prior to the start of the season, some pundits and legions of fans believed that this aging team had more players ready to collect social security than to contribute on the field.
After all, Alex Rodriguez (A-Rod) missed all of last year and was now pushing 40 years of age. Mark Teixeira had been injured frequently over the past few seasons and had spent lots of time on the disabled list instead of at first base. There were other examples of declining productivity including high-priced starting pitcher CC Sabathia.
Graphic via timesunion
So, little was expected of this group in 2015. But after a half season, the Bronx Bombers have gotten timely hitting from Rodriguez, an all star season from Teixeira and dynamic, lights-out pitching from the back end of their bullpen. Many people now believe that the Yankees will win their division this year.
They will have to get by the Baltimore Orioles to achieve that goal. Under Buck Showalter, the Orioles have had consistently strong second halves. There is no reason to believe that won’t happen this season.
Catcher Matt Wieters, first baseman Chris Davis, second baseman Manny Machado, shortstop JJ Hardy and superstar outfielder Adam Jones give this team a potent offense that is strong enough to overcome spotty starting pitching.
Graphic via dallasnews
While other teams in the division such as the Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays can still be factors, it appears likely that either the Yankees or Orioles will finish in first place.
There are still very critical games to be played between the two teams. In fact, the Orioles are at Yankee Stadium today, preparing to play the first of three games in the Bronx.
Once completed, there will be three more games to be played. They will take place on October 2-4 and will almost certainly decide which team moves on to the postseason.
The overachieving Yankees tend to play better at home. The Orioles are very tough to beat in Camden Yards, their home ballpark. Add to that the fact that manager Buck Showalter has a knack for getting the most out of his players and those final three games should be riveting for the fans and exciting from first pitch to last.
Graphic via baltimoresun