The Baltimore Orioles just took two of three from the Boston Red Sox at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
The series meant very little for the Orioles, who now enter the final weekend of the 2021 season with the second-most losses (107) in Major League Baseball, but it had major ramifications for the Red Sox, who are battling with three teams — the New York Yankees, Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays — for an American League wild-card spot.
The Orioles were well aware of the stakes the Red Sox faced, and they seemed to relish playing the role of spoiler, a position they’ve found themselves in before. This was evident before Tuesday’s series opener, when the Orioles agreed to “form an alliance” with the Mariners (a play on a skit from “The Office”), and then again after Thursday’s finale, when the O’s changed their Twitter avatar to zing the Sox.
Take a look:
Perhaps you’re wondering: Who the heck is that guy?
Well, it’s Robert Andino, whose walk-off single for the Orioles against the Red Sox on Sept. 28, 2011, put the finishing touches on Boston’s monumental collapse that season.
Now, if the Red Sox don’t make the playoffs this season, it won’t be quite as bad, from a historical perspective. But it’ll still be a major disappointment for a team that not long ago looked destined to reach the postseason and perhaps even win the American League East.
The Red Sox have three games remaining with the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. They enter Friday’s series opener in D.C. tied with the Mariners (89-70) for the AL’s second wild-card spot, two games behind the Yankees (91-68) and one game ahead of the Blue Jays (88-71).
Boston should be able to take care of business this weekend against Washington, a last-place team with 94 losses on its 2021 résumé. But, as Baltimore just proved (and proved in 2011), anything can happen down the stretch.
All told, the Red Sox’s playoff odds took a major hit with their setback against the Orioles, who certainly did their job in terms of playing spoiler. The Yankees will finish the regular season with three games against the Tampa Bay Rays, whereas the Mariners and Blue Jays will face the Los Angeles Angels and Orioles, respectively.