TORONTO -- The Orioles, who entered Wednesday's contest against the Blue Jays tied for first place in the American League East -- the first time they have been at the top of the division in September since 1997 -- have been doubted all season long.
It's something the club used to use as a source of motivation, says Chris Davis, but not anymore. Instead, the team is adopting manager Buck Showalter's mantra: taking one day at a time.
"I think we have gotten past that," Davis said. "I think towards the middle part of the season, when we were in the mix, and people were kind of waiting for us to mess it up and lose steam, that's when we were really motivated to go out there and play our game and give ourselves a chance to be in the postseason."
"I still don't think we get as much credit as we deserve, but it's not something that bothers us."
Many outsiders have sought to discredit the Orioles' magical run by pointing to the club's run differential, which is -19, making Baltimore the only team in baseball playing at least .500 ball despite surrendering more runs than its scored.
But over the Orioles' past 29 games, in which the club is 21-8, Baltimore has outscored its opponents 142-99.
"I've heard that in the last week more than I've ever heard it [all season]," Davis said. "In all honesty, the only stat that matters at the end of the day is win or loss and we've been putting up a lot of wins."
There are also two things that are difficult to measure that Davis believes have played a role in the success the Orioles are having on the field -- Showalter and the clubhouse dynamic.
Davis credits Showalter for dealing with a squad that has faced its fair share of injuries, and for trying certain players at different positions, such as transitioning slugger Mark Reynolds into the every day first baseman and moving rookie Manny Machado, who was a shortstop throughout his Minor League career, over to third.
"You have to give credit to Buck for putting us in a position to succeed," Davis said. "He's the guy who has been putting the lineups out all year."
As for the clubhouse, which Davis describes as very close, he feels it has a direct correlation to how well the Orioles have played this season.
"Absolutely, absolutely," Davis said without hesitation. "We really enjoy being around each other. We hold each other accountable. I think it's pretty well understood that we control our own clubhouse. There is not a lot from management or the staff having to come in and regulate a bunch of stuff.
"It's pretty much player control. We haven't had anybody this year come up and step on anybody's toes. The rookies we've had are pretty respectful -- they kind of just keep their mouths shut and go about their work."
The Orioles will have their work cut out for them down the stretch, as the club still has series against the Yankees, Rays and A's -- three teams that are also making a bid for the postseason.
"It's a big deal, obviously, but there's a lot of games left," Reynolds said about Baltimore's place in the standings. "Us, the Yankees and the Rays are all right there. Oakland is having a good run right now. We can't take anything for granted.
"We're just having a good time and we're not putting pressure on ourselves. Everybody knows the situation we're in, but we're just taking it day by day."
Reynolds coming on strong in stretch run
TORONTO -- Slugger Mark Reynolds has been on a surge over the past month and has put a slow start to the season behind him.
Since July 30, a span of 31 games, Reynolds is batting .301 with a .419 on-base percentage, .641 slugging percentage and has a 1.060 OPS. He has also hit nine homers and driven in 22 runs.
"Mark is not going to get too up or too down. There is a lot of inner-fire there," manager Buck Showalter said. "I think he knows ... the offense doesn't rest on his shoulders.
"There are going to be some periods where he is going to be very productive. You ride that and we hope it lasts all September. [But] that's hard to do for anybody."
Showalter said batting coach Jim Presley talks with Reynolds every day and the two have put in a lot of work together. One thing Presley has continued to tell Reynolds is to just be himself.
"Jimmy does countless things," Showalter said. "I see him everyday, he doesn't go around tooting his own horn, he's always giving credit to the players, where it should be."
"They tinker but you don't want to take too much away from what a guy has done ... to get to the big leagues."
Showalter said Reynolds has always had a good contact-to-damage ratio, so he isn't surprised by Reynolds' hot bat. Reynolds was batting just .203 with eight homers, 31 RBIs and a .681 OPS over 77 games prior to his uptick in production.
The skipper is a big believer in Presley's approach with Reynolds and the rest of Baltimore's hitters.
"It's just trying to work with each guy's skills. You can't make them all robots," Showalter said.
Patton steps up rehab from injured ankle
TORONTO -- Reliever Troy Patton threw from 120 feet for the second consecutive day with no reported problems with his right ankle, and will throw off a rubber on Friday for the first time since landing on the disabled list in mid-August.
However, Manager Buck Showalter said there is still no timetable for his return.
"Until he gets on a regulation mound and throws downhill and has no problems, it's hard to put any time frame on it. That's the hurdle," Showalter explained.
Patton is dealing with what Showalter described as a "pretty severe strain" of his right ankle, something he has had issues with in the past. Showalter said Patton has had this type of injury before and that each time the area is injured and ligaments are damaged, it gets weaker.
While Showalter is hopeful the Orioles will get Patton back at some point in September, he said it is difficult to predict what type of performance they will get from a player who has spent a chunk of time on the DL.
But Showalter added that Patton is exactly the type of weapon that teams are searching for at this time of the year.
"A lot of people are looking for left-handed relievers in September," Showalter said.
Patton, 27, has appeared in 50 games and sports a 2.58 ERA, 1.03 WHIP to along with 48 strikeouts over 52 1/3 innings of work.
Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. will join Ernie Johnson and John Smoltz in the broadcast booth for TBS' coverage of the Orioles-Yankees game on Sunday. It will be Ripken's first time in the booth.
It's a big week for Ripken, who will have a statue unveiled in his honor on Thursday -- the 17th anniversary of becoming baseball's "Iron Man."
Chris Toman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.