Looking back and ahead

Maybe there's no such thing as a big win on Sept. 19 when you're in last place, but it sure felt like one yesterday.

Rather than being swept by the Yankees with a nine-game road trip approaching, the Orioles had an extra bounce in their collective steps as they headed out the door. They lost the series to the Yankees, but it didn't seem that way as rows and rows of New Yorkers streamed for the exits after Luke Scott scored on Ty Wigginton's 11th-inning single.

Finally, they had been silenced.

I thought that only happened with a chloroform rag.

It's tempting to say that the Orioles would have lost this type of game before manager Buck Showalter arrived, but in fairness, they rallied plenty of times under Dave Trembley. Corey Patterson's dramatic grand slam in Texas came under Juan Samuel's watch. It did happen on occasion.

That said, the Orioles are 27-17 since hiring Showalter and have won 10 of their last 14 games. They're not staggering to the finish line, plane tickets home in hand. There seems to be, as Showalter loves to say, a lot of "want-to" in this team.

Standings update:
Pittsburgh 51-98
Seattle 57-92
Arizona 59-91
Orioles 59-90
Kansas City 61-87
Cleveland 62-87
Washington 62-87

Brian Matusz is back on the hill tonight after being hit on his left triceps by a line drive. He's turned in six quality starts in his last eight outings, and we'll never know if he could have made it seven without the contusion. He's also 2-0 with a 2.55 ERA lifetime against the Red Sox.

Daisuke Matsuzaka has posted a 7.12 ERA in his last six starts. He's got a 5.74 ERA in eight career starts against the Orioles.

Matt Wieters is 6-for-9 with two doubles, a homer and five RBIs against Matsuzaka. Brian Roberts is 8-for-18 with four doubles.

Luke Scott is expected to be named Most Valuable Oriole during the last homestand. It won't be unanimous, but he's got plenty of supporters among the media types who cover the team.

If he didn't make someone's ballot, which allowed room for three selections, I'll need an explanation. And it won't satisfy me.

The guy's batting .282 with 28 doubles, 27 homers and 67 RBIs on a team that had been on a record pace for futility. It's not just a hot first half or second half. He's been amazingly consistent, given his well-deserved reputation for being one of the streakiest hitters in baseball.

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