The presence of Buck Showalter has given the Baltimore Orioles some hope for the future.
The Orioles look to conclude their 13th straight losing season with a fifth consecutive victory and a series sweep of the struggling Detroit Tigers on Sunday at Camden Yards.
Though Baltimore (66-95) will finish last in the AL East for a third straight season, the Orioles are 34-22 since Showalter took over as manager Aug. 2 - the best record in the division over that stretch.
That run should have the Orioles optimistic about 2011.
“You’ve got to go out and play nine innings as a team, and I think we’ve been doing that lately, learning to win as a team and win those close games,” said outfielder Nick Markakis(notes), who homered in Baltimore’s 2-1 win over Detroit on Saturday.
Markakis, who has homered in consecutive contests, is 9 for 22 in his last six games. He is batting .314 with three home runs and five RBIs in nine games versus Detroit this season.
Baltimore starting pitchers, meanwhile, have posted a 3.13 ERA while going 25-16 since Showalter arrived.
The right-hander was 2-0 with a 1.27 ERA in his previous three starts before he allowed five runs in five innings of a 5-0 loss at Tampa Bay that clinched a playoff spot for the Rays on Tuesday.
“I just wasn’t able to locate anything, and my changeup just wasn’t there,” Bergesen told the Orioles’ official website. “It’s never a position you want to be in.”
Bergesen is 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA against the Tigers. He allowed four runs and 11 hits in six innings of a 4-2 loss at Detroit on July 7.
With the chance for a winning season gone, Detroit looks to avoid matching a season high with a seventh straight loss to end the year. The Tigers have totaled 14 runs while going 0-6 on this road trip.
“I’ll be ready for (game) 162,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland. “We’ll put out a good lineup, one that gives us the best chance to win, and we’ll go from there.”
After 157 career relief appearances, including 73 this season, Phil Coke(notes) (7-5, 3.57) is expected to make his first major league start for the Tigers on Sunday. The left-handed setup man is 0-1 with a 2.77 ERA in 15 appearances versus Baltimore.