Firing a manager isn't always the cure-all a team needs. Bad teams are often simply bad teams and there's not much a manager, new or old, can do about it. Sometimes though, bringing in a new voice, a new approach and new philosophies will give a team a spark that generates some positive momentum for a while. And in even rarer circumstances, you get the Baltimore Orioles.
The Orioles won their first game of the season on April 8 (at Tropicana Field against the Rays), didn't win their second one until 10 days later, and didn't post their 10th victory until May 12. For much of 2010, a game against the Orioles was as close to an automatic win as you were liable to find in Major League Baseball. Manager Dave Trembley was fired on June 4, replaced by interim manager Juan Samuel, and the club continued to muddle along at about the same pace.
But on July 30, the Orioles hired Buck Showalter and became a different team overnight, winning seven of their first ten games after the change and posting a record of 17-11 in the month of August.
The Orioles (49-85, 5th in the AL East) are fresh off a series with the Boston Red Sox that saw them drop 2 out of 3. They are 5 and 5 in their last 10 games and 3-9 overall against the Rays this season, with a 1-5 record at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Kevin Millwood (3-14, 5.34) is expected to start Friday night's series opener for Baltimore.
The Rays (82-51, 2nd) were off yesterday, having completed a six game homestand that saw them take two of three in series against both the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays. They're 7-3 in their last ten games, are 1.5 games out of first place behind the New York Yankees and hold a 6.5 game lead over the Red Sox for the Wildcard spot in the playoffs. They'll send Matt Garza (13-7, 3.52) to the mound Friday night.