Baltimore Orioles, KC Royals to face off in crucial post-deadline series

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - JULY 26: Jonathan Schoop
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - JULY 26: Jonathan Schoop /
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The Baltimore Orioles are still clinging to playoff hopes, while the Kansas City Royals are the ones controlling their playoff destiny.

The Baltimore Orioles and Kansas City Royals are set to meet up in a three-game series at the lovely Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

The Royals currently lead the second wild-card slot, only a half game behind the Boston Red Sox for the first American League Wild Card spot.

The Royals are currently only two games behind the Cleveland Indians for first in the AL Central, after going 16-9 so far in the month of July.

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This is a team that was written off as dead, much like the Toronto Blue Jays, after a rough start. Well, here they are.

The Royals also have made some trades recently, acquiring Trevor Cahill, Brandon Maurer and Ryan Buchter from the San Diego Padres and Melky Cabrera from the Chicago White Sox.

The Orioles have also made a few trades, most notably for Jeremy Hellickson. All other deals have been minor, sending away international slot money for minor leaguers. A terrible decision, but a topic for another time.

The last time these teams faced off, the Royals swept the Orioles out of Kauffman Stadium. Can the Orioles return the favor to kick off the month of August? It sure would go a long way to helping their playoff push.

A few factors as to how they can make that happen.

Baltimore Orioles:
Baltimore Orioles: /

Continue to hit the ball

Playing the Texas Rangers tends to bring out the best in the Orioles’ bats. But, if this team is going to contend, they need to get solid contributions from the offense on a consistent basis.

Jonathan Schoop is almost to his career-best statistics and is having a great year. Manny Machado is up to .243 and is doing a much better job at the plate.

Trey Mancini is still hovering around .300 (.299). Caleb Joseph, who should be the starting catcher, is also hitting right around .300. The home runs continue to come from the team, but they need also to piece together at-bats.

So, why is keeping the offense going so important?

Well, the Royals are about to run out two pretty good pitchers. The projected starters are Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, and Jason Vargas.

Duffy is 7-6 with a 3.56 ERA. That’s good. He also is a guy who historically has done quite well against the Orioles.

Kennedy has struggled a bit, at 4-6 with a 4.43 ERA. Newsflash – that ERA is still better than any of the Orioles’ starters.

Vargas is 13-4 with a 3.00 ERA. He may not be the Cy Young leader, but he has to be in the consideration.

The Orioles are going to need to hit the ball, and not just against the starters. The Royals’ bullpen has been buoyed by the addition of Buchter and Maurer, who has not allowed a run since being acquired. Pair them with Neftali Feliz, Joakim Soria and Kelvin Herrera and the Royals have a pretty good bullpen.