Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 8/18/12

A couple of weeks ago the Baltimore Orioles grabbed first place in the wild card race. Winning 4 of their last 5 series things were looking promising in Baltimore.

But then two straight 5-3 losses and the Orioles are teetering on the edge of the playoffs. Manny Machado has cooled and can’t seem to hit like he was just a week ago. Mark Reynolds and Omar Quintanilla too have seemingly lost the magic they had just recently.

If the Orioles hope to remain in playoff contention they need to make their move now. They cannot allow themselves to fall behind a team like Detroit or Oakland and hope to overtake them in the last month of the season.

Unfortunately, keeping up with those teams may be tough.

Currently in a series with the Tigers, thing don’t get any easier this month for the O’s. Playing against the Rangers, Jays, White Sox, and Yankees to close out August seems like an impossible task. All but one of these teams is in playoff position, and two, NY and Texas, could make an argument for being the best team in baseball.

Things look bleak at this point for a miracle O’s season.

Or do they?

Despite the difficulties of these series this lines up perfectly for Baltimore. With two, maybe three of these teams, directly competing with Baltimore for playoff spots this gives some huge advantages.

Instead of just winning their games and hoping that their competitors lose, Baltimore now has more control over their own destiny. If they can beat teams like Detroit and NY their playoff chances will go up exponentially.

Now I’m not honestly saying I think the O’s can survive this stretch. As a fan I would be happy with going .500 the rest of the month, but these games set things up nicely.

This next stretch is their most important all season. Every single game could be the difference between the playoffs and an early start to the offseason. Let’s hope the young team can handle that kind of pressure.

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

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