The Orioles' early afternoon start time Thursday was supposed to get the team in the air and to the West Coast at a decent hour.
But after their 14-inning win over the Rays -- a five-hour, 14-minute marathon that ended with a 3-2 victory -- the Orioles were looking at a later arrival time in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter doesn't hesitate to pick apart the inadequacies of the schedule, and he was quick to point out this week that the Orioles are the only remaining AL East contender that has to go out west this regular season. The Yankees' furthest remaining road trip is to Minnesota. The Rays have four games in Chicago before hosting the Orioles in the final series of the regular season.
The Orioles face a long cross-country flight with no travel day before opening up with the three-game weekend series in Oakland, followed by three games in Seattle on Monday through Wednesday. The Orioles then lose three hours early Thursday morning when they fly east to play the Red Sox at Fenway next weekend. Showalter said they expect to get into Boston around 8 a.m. Thursday.
"So it's not really an off day," Showalter said.
Add the fact that the Orioles are playing an Oakland team that's won six of its past seven and spent much of the week outplaying the surging Angels, and this trip will be no easy task.
"Good flight now," Orioles closer Jim Johnson said following Thursday's win. "It makes that West Coast trip a little easier when you win. Obviously we have a big task to handle in Oakland. They're playing as well as anybody right now. You can enjoy it for a little bit, the five hours you're on the flight, but that's about it."
But this Orioles team – which owns a 39-30 road record – thrives on adversity. I'd say this is the most critical stretch in their season. I'd say this is when we truly find out what these Orioles are all about.
But I've been saying that all year. And they pass the next test at every turn.