Can O's continue to wreak havoc in wild card race?

Buy a ticket to see the Red Sox play the Orioles at the Yard this week. History might be made and the Orioles could be major players in the drama.

A little over a week ago on this blog, I said there would be meaningful baseball in Baltimore late in September. Since that post, no team has a played a bigger role in shaping the playoff picture than the Orioles. They have gone 9-5 in their last 14 games - all against teams with playoff hopes.

The four-game series last weekend with the Tigers was the only series in that span that didn't affect the playoff race as the Tigers had already secured the American League Central.

Over these past two weeks, the Orioles have slowed the Red Sox, Rays and Angels in their quest for the AL wild card by going a combined 7-3 against the three contenders.

Oh - and as for that historical moment I mentioned - starting tonight, the Orioles could expand their spoiler role by beating the Red Sox and helping the Rays overcome the biggest September deficit held by any team in the history of Major League Baseball to get to the playoffs.

As of Sept. 3, the Rays were nine games behind the Red Sox in the AL wild card standings. No team has ever made up a nine-game deficit in the month of September on their way to a postseason berth.

Coming into Monday, the Rays cut that deficit to just one game. Joe Maddon's group has done it not so much by winning - they're playing .500 ball since completing their well-publicized sweep of the Red Sox back on Sept. 11. The gap has been closed because of how bad the Red Sox have performed. They've gone 4-9 since Sept. 11, and the O's are responsible for three of the nine loses.

Buck Showalter and the Orioles couldn't give a flying hoot whether they help the Rays win the wild card or not, but as prideful, professional baseball players, they owe it to the game to do everything they can to win these last three games against the Red Sox.

The Rays will have to take care of the rest. Tampa Bay will face the Yankees in its last three games of the regular season. Even though New York has already won the AL East, just like the O's, Joe Girardi and the Yankees have a responsibility to compete this week as well.

For those who argue the AL East is not the most competitive division in baseball, they haven't been watching this September.