Orioles play up to role of spoiler

Orioles reliever Koji Uehara reacts after striking out Evan Longoria for the last out in the ninth inning.
Orioles reliever Koji Uehara reacts after striking out Evan Longoria for the last out in the ninth inning. (Joe Giza)
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By Dan Connolly
Monday, September 6, 2010

BALTIMORE - There's a certain stigma associated with the word "spoiler" in baseball; it means a team isn't good enough to be in playoff contention so it must derive satisfaction from beating successful clubs.

Frankly, the Baltimore Orioles haven't played well enough down the stretch in the last decade to warrant the spoiler tag, routinely stumbling in August and September against contenders.

Under new Manager Buck Showalter, however, the Orioles already have turned in their first winning August in 13 years and now, with their 8-7 victory over the American League wild card-leading Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday, they seem to be inching closer toward spoiler status.

"It's kind of in the back of our minds a little bit," said center fielder Corey Patterson, who had three RBI, including a two-run homer in the third. "We know that team is fighting for something. It's kind of basically our playoffs in a sense. It shows we can play with anybody I think, whether they are at the top of the division or middle of the pack."

On a sun-splashed Sunday afternoon, in front of an announced crowd of 28,268, the Orioles (51-86) clinched their first series victory against the Rays since April 2009. They had either lost or tied the previous nine series against Tampa Bay (83-53).

"We know what we're up against. We know we're in the best division in baseball," said right fielder Nick Markakis, who had two hits and two RBI. "We know what we've got to do. We've just got to put it all together, and lately it's looking that way. "

It was just the second time this season in 14 chances that the Orioles won the rubber match of a three-game series. It also gave Showalter his fifth series win in 10 since taking over Aug. 2.

- Baltimore Sun


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