Here we are almost into September, and the Baltimore Orioles are still not going away in regards to the playoff conversation. Everyone around baseball expected a August collapse, and instead the O’s have gone 17-9, sitting first in the Wild Card standings, and get this – three games back of the division leading New York Yankees.

After going 28-44 against the American League East last season, the surprising O’s have gone 26-20 this year, and have an opportunity, with a sweep, to move into a tie for the division lead this weekend. With more emphasis on winning the division this year, with Wild Card teams slated to play a one-game winner-take-all match to advance, this can be deemed a huge series for Baltimore, still looking for their first AL East crown since 1997. Nobody thought the O’s would be in this position this weekend after last year’s 93 loss season, and I mean nobody!

On this day last year, the Orioles were right where most thought they would be this year.

Standings via ESPN

Here are your pitching matchups for the three game set:

Friday:

BALT – Miguel Gonzalez: 3.66 ERA, 4.94 FIP, 4.97 xFIP, 17.6 K%, 9.0 BB%, .268 BABIP

NY – Hiroki Kuroda: 2.98 ERA, 3.77 FIP, 3.70 xFIP, 18.7 K%, 5.7 BB%, .268 BABIP

Saturday:

BALT – Wei-Yin Chen: 3.78 ERA, 4.18 FIP, 4.26 xFIP, 19.6 K%, 7.4 BB%, .274 BABIP

NY – Freddy Garcia: 4.90 ERA, 4.20 FIP, 3.98 xFIP, 19.4 K%, 7.0 BB%, .310 BABIP

Sunday:

BALT – Chris Tillman: 3.26 ERA, 4.08 FIP, 4.18 xFIP, 19.3 K%, 7.8 BB%, .254 BABIP

NY – David Phelps: 2.96 ERA, 3.95 FIP, 3.49 xFIP, 25.4 K%, 7.3 BB%, .268 BABIP

Other matchups to watch this weekend:

The White Sox and Tigers start a three game series in Detroit with the Central Division on the line. The Tigers trail the White Sox by three games in the division and head into the series having lost four straight at home. Jake Peavy will take the mound Friday against Doug Fister, but the real featured attraction will come Sunday night, when Chris Sale goes up against Justin Verlander. The Tigers hope at that time, a win would bring them into a tie for the Central crown.

In the National league, the Cardinals continue a tough four game set in Washington while the Braves are at home to play the Phillies. In the West, the Dodgers continue their series with the D’Backs, while the Giants are in Chicago to play the Triple-A Cubs.

Here’s a quick look at the current Wild Card standings in both divisions.

Standings via ESPN

And the rest from around MLB:

The D’Backs win in L.A. last night meant Papa John’s Pizza for people in the Phoenix area today. [Getting Blanked]

Rays Manager Joe Madden made a point to say he would be giving less playing time to Carlos Pena. [Tampa Bay Times]

The New York Yankees may have third baseman Alex Rodriguez back in their lineup as early as Monday [The Star-Ledger]

Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley was scheduled to get a injection in his elbow in hopes to avoid being out for the season. [LA Times]

The Giants plan on calling up outfielder Xavier Nady on Saturday. [Ken Rosenthal]

The Reds may get Joey Votto back in the lineup on Monday. [Twitter]