Victory its own reward for motivated Orioles

Victory its own reward for motivated Orioles

TORONTO -- The Orioles, who entered Wednesday's contest against the Blue Jays tied for first place in the American League East -- the first time they have been at the top of the division in September since 1997 -- have been doubted all season long.

It's something the club used to use as a source of motivation, says Chris Davis, but not anymore. Instead, the team is adopting manager Buck Showalter's mantra: taking one day at a time.

"I think we have gotten past that," Davis said. "I think towards the middle part of the season, when we were in the mix, and people were kind of waiting for us to mess it up and lose steam, that's when we were really motivated to go out there and play our game and give ourselves a chance to be in the postseason."

"I still don't think we get as much credit as we deserve, but it's not something that bothers us."

Many outsiders have sought to discredit the Orioles' magical run by pointing to the club's run differential, which is -19, making Baltimore the only team in baseball playing at least .500 ball despite surrendering more runs than its scored.

But over the Orioles' past 29 games, in which the club is 21-8, Baltimore has outscored its opponents 142-99.

"I've heard that in the last week more than I've ever heard it [all season]," Davis said. "In all honesty, the only stat that matters at the end of the day is win or loss and we've been putting up a lot of wins."

There are also two things that are difficult to measure that Davis believes have played a role in the success the Orioles are having on the field -- Showalter and the clubhouse dynamic.

Davis credits Showalter for dealing with a squad that has faced its fair share of injuries, and for trying certain players at different positions, such as transitioning slugger Mark Reynolds into the every day first baseman and moving rookie Manny Machado, who was a shortstop throughout his Minor League career, over to third.

"You have to give credit to Buck for putting us in a position to succeed," Davis said. "He's the guy who has been putting the lineups out all year."

As for the clubhouse, which Davis describes as very close, he feels it has a direct correlation to how well the Orioles have played this season.

"Absolutely, absolutely," Davis said without hesitation. "We really enjoy being around each other. We hold each other accountable. I think it's pretty well understood that we control our own clubhouse. There is not a lot from management or the staff having to come in and regulate a bunch of stuff.

"It's pretty much player control. We haven't had anybody this year come up and step on anybody's toes. The rookies we've had are pretty respectful -- they kind of just keep their mouths shut and go about their work."

The Orioles will have their work cut out for them down the stretch, as the club still has series against the Yankees, Rays and A's -- three teams that are also making a bid for the postseason.

"It's a big deal, obviously, but there's a lot of games left," Reynolds said about Baltimore's place in the standings. "Us, the Yankees and the Rays are all right there. Oakland is having a good run right now. We can't take anything for granted.

"We're just having a good time and we're not putting pressure on ourselves. Everybody knows the situation we're in, but we're just taking it day by day."