What is the Baltimore Orioles magic number? Rays series means everything

The Baltimore Orioles' postseason fate depends largely on the upcoming Tampa Bay Rays series.
Aaron Hicks, Adley Rutxchman, Baltimore Orioles
Aaron Hicks, Adley Rutxchman, Baltimore Orioles / Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Orioles are locked in a tight battle atop the AL East. At 91-54, the Orioles hold the best record in the American League, but the Tampa Bay Rays are hot on their heels — 90-57, two games behind.

The winner of that race will hold the No. 1 seed in the AL side of the MLB playoffs, which could mean the difference between an early exit and a World Series run. The Orioles have been the surprise of the MLB season, emerging from the MLB doldrums to take the league by storm with a deep, balanced, young roster.

So, the question is, what is Baltimore's magic number? The O's control their own destiny for the first time in years.

Here's where things stand.

What is the Baltimore Orioles' magic number?

As of Thursday, Sept. 14, the Orioles' magic number is 15 wins. Notably, the Rays' magic number is 15... if the Orioles don't accomplish their goal. As fate would have it, the two teams are currently locked in a tight battle in the first game of a four-game series.

The outcome of this series could very well determine the first-place team in the American League playoffs. If Tampa can string together a few wins, the Orioles are going to be playing from behind. If Baltimore can do the opposite — or at least hold the line — then Tampa will be the team operating under pressure in the final weeks of the season.

It's totally possible for the loser of this first-place race to win the World Series. Philadelphia made its way to the World Series as a wild-card team last season, so the 'magic number' is not the end-all, be-all for Baltimore or Tampa Bay. Still, it's nice to have the home crowd and travel schedule in your favor when the lights are brightest. O's fans haven't seen postseason baseball in a minute; it's going to be a fantastic atmosphere at Camden Yards.

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