The Baltimore Orioles would like to be taken seriously as an American League East contender and while they’ve fooled many pundits this season, one team they’re not fooling is the New York Yankees. As the O’s get set to visit Yankee Stadium for a three-game set, the Bronx Bombers know that they’re hosting Junior.

The Orioles are just that little brother that big brother loves to beat up on. At first, you throw him a bone and pretend like he’s grown enough to compete with you. Then when things start to get remotely importantly, you step on the gas and show him who is boss.

Don’t tell Baltimore that, though. Let them think they’re getting closer to the promise land. It’s fine and dandy that they started the year 39-27 and were 12 games above .500 on June 17th. But as we get closer to big boy time, they’re merely 14-22 over their last 36 games.

The Yankees have already wiped the Orioles chin five times in eight meetings this season and most of those came when the Orioles were trying and the Yankees were sleepwalking. Now that Big Brother is taking the games seriously, Baltimore’s 7.5-game gap between them and the Yankees should widen.

Junior may catch a break this week as the Yankees are a very different team since the last time these two AL East rivals met. The Bombers are riddled with injuries, the newest of which includes Alex Rodriguez and Andy Pettitte.

With all of the injuries, this might actually be close to an even series over the coming days.

It’s hard to look at the Orioles and take them seriously. On one hand, they are third in the AL East standings and are just two games out of a Wild Card spot. On the other, their -63 run differential is actually better than just than just two other teams in the American League: the Minnesota Twins (-88) and Kansas City Royals (-65). Those two squads have the fewest wins in the AL.

They’ll need a message-sending sweep if they want to climb back into the AL East race but any reasonable person making logical predictions or giving away free MLB picks knows that they are far more likely to get swept than be conducting any sweeps of their own.