Showalter's O's looking for strong finish

There's no question the Orioles are a different team since Buck Showalter took over as manager on August 3.

Showalter has pointed out that he has had the benefits of a healthy roster with key players like Brian Roberts contributing to the success. And while that is accurate, Showalter's contributions to the improved consistency and winning are critical.

With a three-year contract, the players know that Showalter is in charge and he will have a big say in the roster changes that will come this offseason. He expects hustle. He expects attention to detail. And he expects each player to do his best to contribute to each game for the success of the Orioles. He pointed out in his first week when asked if he would name a closer in the bullpen that he is more concerned with the "Win Thing" than he is with the "Save Thing". Team success is what he's all about, and it's what it should be all about to the players.

In the short term Showalter is slowly changing the losing culture. The Orioles are trying to finish strong by winning as many games as possible, especially with so many September games against AL East opponents. That has been a problem for the last five seasons. The Orioles haven't finished with a winning record over the final two months of the season since 2004.

Here's a look at the August-September records the last few seasons.

2009 (20-40)
2008 (16-37)
2007 (19-38)
2006 (22-33)
2005 (23-35)
2004 (32-28)

No one is overlooking the poor record from April through July. The organization knows there is work to be done and it's all ready underway. By taking over the Orioles on August 3, Showalter has two months to evaluate the current roster and determine which players are keepers and where the Orioles need to upgrade.

It's not a coincidence that the Orioles' winning consistency has improved as the starting pitching has improved. If the pitchers feel they are auditioning for spots in the rotation next season, they have responded. And the starters getting deeper into games is in part due to Showalter's patience in allowing them to pitch out of jams. And that has made the bullpen stronger and more effective as well.

There's a lot to be excited about looking forward. And Showalter's impact is already being felt.