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Orioles happy to be in first place, but not celebrating too early

The Baltimore Sun

TORONTO -- The Orioles put themselves in first place in September for the first time in 15 years with a 12-0 thumping of the Blue Jays on Tuesday night. But you wouldn't have thought they had just reached such a significant milestone from scene in the visiting clubhouse at  Rogers Centre.

There was no celebration, just the normal post-game procedure. Even the booming music that usually accompanies a big win -- especially on the road -- wasn't there.

Business as usual for the 2012 Orioles. Full of suprises.

They've taken the attitude of their manager, Buck Showalter, who refuses to put more emphasis on one game over another. Now, when the Orioles arrive in a new city, the questions are the same: How do you explain it?

"I don't," Showalter said before Tuesday's game. "It's not overanalytical. It isn't I think our guys have a respect for how short the distance is between the penthouse and the outhouse. You know that expression, ignorance is bliss?"

And the Orioles have adopted Showalter's never-too-high, never-too-low mentality.

"We’re just having fun," said first baseman Mark Reynolds, who hit his fifth homer in five games. "We’re not too confident. We’re not down on ourselves. Just rolling and playing solid baseball and we’re having a good time."

With 27 games to go, the Orioles know that September has just begun. They will arrive home after tomorrow's series finale facing four games against the Yankees and three more against the sizzling Rays. They then go out west to play an Oakland team that's in the wild-card hunt. Their final series of the regular season is in Tampa Bay. And in between, teams like the Red Sox, Mariners and Blue Jays will be looking to play the same spoiler role the Orioles did last September -- when they played a key role in keeping the Red Sox out of the playoffs.

"It’s definitey exciting but we understand we have a long way to go," said left-hander Zach Britton, who threw seven shutout innings Tuesday night. "We understand what happened last September. Look where people were, so we can’t get too big-headed right now.

"We want to come out and have a good game [Wednesday]," he added. "We have a couple of big series coming up and we want to continue being consistent. The starting pitching had done a great job. The offense, they went on a tear tonight. Keep doing what we’re doing. We’re on a good run, but I think our heads are in the right spot. We’re not looking too far ahead. We focusing on the moment."

For a team that's never been in this situation -- Britton was 10 the last time the Orioles were in the playoffs -- they are taking their cues from Showalter, who knows what it's like to win.

"It’s nice that we’re playing well, but at the same time, we have how many more games to play before the end of the year?" Orioles catcher Matt Wieters said. "It’s nice to be here now, but it’s not our goal. It’s our goal to be there at the end of the year."  

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