Even though last night’s Orioles game against the Detroit Tigers was washed out by the blanketing rain that flooded much of the Mid-Atlantic, the sun was still shining at Camden Yards. That sun stands for the feeling that the Orioles have created around Baltimore.

This season marks the 13th consecutive losing season for the O’s, but the team’s recent resurgence under manager Buck Showalter has the city feeling that it might not have to endure a 14th.

On Wednesday the Orioles got a huge performance from an unlikely source, as Kevin Millwood pitched an absolute gem and picked up his fourth win of the season.

Millwood shut out the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays, holding them to just three hits. It was Millwood’s best start in what has been a forgettable and frustrating season for the veteran right-hander.

The series-clinching win guaranteed that the Orioles will avoid a 100-loss season.

Even though Millwood’s season has been a forgettable one, the season as a whole for the Orioles has been one to remember and build upon.

Now of course, it did not always look that way. Baltimore’s 2-16 start quickly extinguished the optimism that fans had for the team in spring training. They trudged their way to a 32-73 record that spelled the end of former skipper Dave Trembley. The fans weren’t just upset; they simply were starting to not even care anymore.

Then team president Andy MacPhail announced the hiring of Buck Showalter. Showalter was considered by many analysts to be the best man for the job, and some improvement was expected for the young Orioles. What has happened under Showalter’s guidance has been nothing short of remarkable.

The young Orioles have seen nearly every part of their game improve under Showalter. The hitting has increased dramatically. Average and power numbers are up for almost every player on the squad.

Center fielder Adam Jones, who was regressing after a Gold Glove season last year, has improved significantly since Showalter took the helm. Jones has been more patient at the plate and has learned that the low and away slider in the dirt is not hittable.

The defense as a whole has gotten much sharper as well. Earlier in the season the Orioles on their best nights still made unforgivable mistakes. Now when they make mistakes it is usually because of aggressive play. The improved defense certainly has been helped along by the superb starting pitching that the Orioles have been experiencing under Showalter.

Showalter has instilled a confidence into the clubhouse. The Orioles show up to the park these days not just thinking that they might win, but believing that they can and will win. On most nights that is exactly what Baltimore does. The Orioles’ record under Showalter is an impressive 31-22. Over that span of time the Orioles have the best record in the AL East, with many wins coming against the division.

The last weekend of the regular season is here as the Orioles and Detroit Tigers will tangle at Camden Yards for four games, two of which will be played as a doubleheader today starting at 4:35 pm. It is also fan appreciation weekend and the feeling is much different this time around. With the way the Orioles have played under Showalter, there is not only optimism and excitement for next season but expectations as well.

This weekend is about appreciating the Baltimore fans for all of the cheering and money spent at the ballpark this year. However, the difference this time is that the Baltimore Orioles have given the fans something to appreciate.

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