Heath Bintliff: Smoke, mirrors and a late-season surge

After being completely inept for most of the season, the Orioles entered September hit with injuries and facing some of the toughest competition of the season. The team was fielding a Triple-A lineup on most nights and the losing looked to get out of hand. That may not have been a bad thing.

Instead, the Orioles have taken their spoiler role seriously and gone 10-10 in September and 10-4 since Sept. 7.

How? Although the team as a whole has not played well, there have been some guys who have been carrying the rag tag bunch to victory. Here are a few who have been on fire since Sept. 7.

Jeremy Guthrie: Guthrie has gone 3-0 with a 2.70 ERA. Although a couple of those outings have been shaky, he's been one of the only Orioles starters to keep the team in games.

Robert Andino: At some point every year, Andino unexpectedly has a stretch or two like this. His .874 OPS is mostly driven by his batting average (.346) but he also has five extra-base hits while playing shortstop, second base and third base, filling in where needed.

Matt Wieters: Even though he's only hitting .189, he has three doubles, three homers and seven walks over the past 13 games, good for an .832 OPS.

Chris Davis: Davis has been pretty ineffective since his arrival in Baltimore but has seven extra-base hits, a .313 batting average and an .865 OPS.

Nolan Reimold: Reimold's uneven season continues, this time for the better. Over his last 12 games, Reimold has hit .313, has nine walks, a double and four homers. His 1.154 OPS leads all Orioles batters over this span.

Vladimir Guerrero: Guerrero is hitting .407 with seven extra-base hits over his last 14 games while posting a 1.054 OPS and finally providing the kind of offense the Orioles have needed from the cleanup spot all season, even if for a short time. But it is the best stretch of hitting all season from Guerrero, only an 18-game stretch in May comes close to this kind of production.

Jason Berken, Pedro Strop, Wiliie Eyre and Zach Phillips: I group all these guys together since they are all relatively recent additions to the Baltimore bullpen. Since Sept. 7, these four hurlers have combined for 16 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. It's probably no accident that the Orioles finally have a few guys that can stop the bleeding a bit and they have been able to win a few tight games.

Jim Johnson: Kevin Gregg is closer in name only at this point. Johnson has seven saves and a 1.23 ERA over 8 1/3 innings pitched.

Troy Patton: Given the woeful state of the Orioles' relief corp for most of the season, it's good to see Patton get an extended look. Over this recent stretch, he's had 5 2/3 innings of relief work with four strikeouts and a 1.23 ERA.

Heath Bintliff blogs about the Orioles at Dempsey's Army. His ruminations about the Birds appear as part of MASNsports.com's season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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