Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 6/26/12

Let me start by declaring right here and right now that the Baltimore Orioles are not going to win the AL East. That being said almost 3 months into the season the Orioles, for the first time in years, are still very much in the playoff hunt. With a strong start to the season, as well as the addition of the extra wildcard spot Orioles faithful have started to believe in the once bottom dwelling franchise.

But before we declare this franchise reborn, they have to make a run to the playoffs. And that run starts this week.

After finishing up interleague play this season, with an overall record of 11-7, it is time for the Orioles to get into one of the most grueling portions of their year. Over the next two weeks the Orioles will play series against two teams competing for the two wild card positions.

Starting tonight the Orioles play 6 games before the all-star break against the Los Angeles Angles. Since the first month of the season the Angels have been one of the hottest teams in baseball, going from the bottom of their division to one of the wildcard favorites. The growth of rookie Mike Trout, as well as the fantastic pitching staff has been vital to their success.

For the Orioles it could be a long two weeks. Even though the Orioles have started the season off incredibly well they have struggled against the teams in the AL West. Very early in the year Baltimore dropped two of three to the Angels, during a time when L.A. was at the bottom of the league. Throughout the year as well it has been clear that Baltimore cannot seem to break through against high level pitchers.

The most recent showcase of this struggle was when R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets threw a one hit complete game one hitter against the Orioles. If Baltimore can break this streak, and step up against a superior staff then it will launch them into a very strong wildcard position heading into the break.

My prediction is that in the 6 games against the Angels, Baltimore will drop at least 3 but should remain very much in the wildcard hunt. Going into the all-star break it looks like the Orioles could be headed towards the postseason.

It’s still not even halfway into the year, but the Orioles can finally start looking to the future with hope. In a season where a winning record would have been a success, a shot at the playoffs is incredible.

The Orioles may not make it this year but have set the stage for long term success. Let’s just hope when this round ends we don’t have to waste another 14 years in futility.

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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