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Tigers announce starting rotation for Division Series

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Tigers announce starting rotation for Division Series

Posted on 30 September 2014 by Luke Jones

Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus announced his starting rotation for the American League Division Series against the Orioles with right-hander Max Scherzer taking the ball for Game 1 as expected.

The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner will be opposed by Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman and posted an 18-5 record with a 3.15 ERA in 33 starts spanning 220 1/3 innings this season. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 3.92 ERA in six career starts against Baltimore with 45 strikeouts and nine walks in 39 innings.

The Tigers will send 2011 AL Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander to the mound for Game 2 despite an off year in which the right-hander went 15-12 with a 4.54 ERA in 32 starts.

Lefty David Price, the 2012 AL Cy Young winner and acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays in late July, will start Game 3 for the Tigers back at Comerica Park and right-hander Rick Porcello is scheduled to pitch Game 4.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter has yet to announce the rest of his starting rotation beyond Tillman in Game 1, but Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, and Bud Norris are expected to start with the 23-year-old Kevin Gausman shifting to a relief role in October.

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Start times announced for Orioles-Tigers ALDS Games 1-3 — sort of

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Start times announced for Orioles-Tigers ALDS Games 1-3 — sort of

Posted on 29 September 2014 by Luke Jones

After much frustration waiting for start times to be announced for the American League Division Series between the Orioles and the Detroit Tigers, fans received some clarity Monday evening.

However, they’ll need to wait for the results of the Wild Card Games to complete the picture for the first three games of the series.

Camden Yards will host Game 1 of the ALDS Thursday at 5:37 p.m. or 6:07 p.m., which does provide an adequate time frame on which to plan. The Orioles and Tigers will begin at 5:37 should Kansas City beat Oakland on Tuesday night, but an Athletics win would push the start to 6:07 on Thursday evening.

The parameters for Game 2 are more problematic as the Orioles and Tigers would begin at 12:07 p.m. Friday if San Francisco wins the National League Wild Card Game on Wednesday night. Should Pittsburgh prevail, Game 2 in Baltimore would begin at 3:07 on Friday afternoon.

Game 3 in Detroit is already locked into a 3:45 p.m. start on Sunday while times for Monday’s Game 4 and Wednesday’s Game 5 — which would be back at Camden Yards — have yet to be announced.

All ALDS games will be televised on TBS with Brian Anderson, Dennis Eckersley, and Joe Simpson on the call.

Major League Baseball also announced that Jeff Kellogg, Scott Barry, Dan Bellino, Fieldin Culbreth, Paul Schrieber, and Jim Wolf will be the umpiring crew for the Orioles-Tigers series.

Umpires CB Bucknor, Chris Conroy, Ed Hickox, and Brian O’Nora will serve in the replay center in New York during the Division Series.

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McLouth appreciative of opportunity and fans in ALDS run

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McLouth appreciative of opportunity and fans in ALDS run

Posted on 18 October 2012 by Ryan Chell

Orioles outfielder Nate McLouth would have never imagined having people telling him “Thank You” at the end of the 2012 season after manager Buck Showalter and GM Dan Duquette gave the 30-year old cast-off another opportunity at the big leagues.

But it turns out, McLouth happened to be one of the reasons why the Baltimore Orioles were able to end their stretch of 15 consecutive losing seasons and a lack of baseball being played in October, and he saw that appreciation come his way in masses.

McLouth, who was signed by the Orioles to a minor league deal on June 5th and eventually found his way to the big league club on August 3rd, jumped right in to the Baltimore lineup and played at a high level and provided a spark for manager Buck Showalter in the stretch run of the regular season.

In 55 games in the regular season, McLouth hit .268 with seven home runs and 18 RBIs. He had a .342 OBP and his slugging percentage reached .435.

Those were numbers that McLouth had not really seen consistently since 2008 when he made the All-Star team as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

That presence was even more important after right fielder and leadoff man Nick Markakis broke his wrist in early September from a CC Sabathia pitch, and McLouth-who had already been written off by his two previous teams in Atlanta and Pittsburgh, was called upon by Showalter to stabilize the offense.

McLouth not only proved the doubters wrong, but was the Orioles hottest bat in their ALDS set with the New York Yankees and admitted to Glenn Clark on “The Reality Check” Monday the weekend after their playoff run ended-that he had a lot of fun along the way.

“That’s what you play for,” McLouth said. ”It was as fun of time as you can have playing baseball.   I know a lot of people-probably everybody-didn’t expect this team to be where we were coming down there in September.  That may have made it even more fun.  But once we got there, we expected to be there.  It was exciting; it was a lot of fun.”

McLouth had two RBIs in the Orioles 5-1 Wild Card win over the Texas Rangers, and in the ALDS against the New York Yankees, he went hit .318 with one home run and 3 RBIs from the leadoff spot.

It was just a continued sense of added confidence for McLouth to be playing at that high of a level again on that big of a stage.

“I knew that I still had some good baseball left in me, and I still do.  It was so nice to have that opportunity, and to be able to take advantage of it.”

McLouth said that the whole process was made much easier when his manager, Buck Showalter, trusted in his skills as gave him the green light to go out and make plays on his own.

“Buck let me do my thing on the bases, in the outfield, at the plate, it was great. After struggling for a couple years it was really, really difficult, but it was like a breath of fresh air.  I couldn’t have had a better time.”

Unfortunately, McLouth-who had playoff experience with the Braves in 2010 NLDS-had no control over the rest of his teammates’ bats going cold against the Yankees, and the season sadly came to an end.

But as McLouth can attest to-the game of baseball can be a roller coaster ride sometimes.

“In that series at Camden Yards in September, we swung the bats pretty well, facing a lot of the same pitchers,” McLouth said. “Unfortunately, that’s how baseball works sometimes. That also goes to show you how hard baseball is…they got a couple more hits than we did.”

McLouth said losing last Friday night stinks and that bad taste in his mouth still lingers, but ultimately he knows both he and his teammates will be able to look at it from a much broader perspective.

“I don’t think it has still hasn’t hit yet, but I think it will. I don’t care if you’re expected to be there or not, it stinks losing,” McLouth told Clark. “I’m sure once the sting wears off a little bit here, we will be able to be happy about what we accomplished this year.”

And ultimately, McLouth said he’s going to use days like Friday and Saturday to better motivate himself toward doing more in 2013 next season for the Baltimore Orioles should he be given that opportunity.

It’s something he hasn’t felt in quite some time.

“Usually the last day of the season, if you’re not going to the playoffs, it’s one of the best days of the year,” McLouth admitted. You know you have some time off coming ahead of you- some time to rest.”

“But after losing on Friday, it was an awful feeling, it was empty, and it was terrible. I think all of us wanted to keep going, and that’s going to drive me personally in the offseason going into next season.”

But that’s a situation that is again out of McLouth’s control.

The 30-year old McLouth had signed a one year, 1.75 million dollar contract to play this season for the Orioles, and with the healthy returns of outfielders Nolan Reimold and Nick Markakis, you have to wonder if there is a spot and at-bats for McLouth on this roster.

McLouth said he will focus on coming back strong in 2013, and hopes that it’s back in Orange and Black because Charm City really grew on him.

“I can tell you I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Baltimore- everything about it,” McLouth said with a little emotion. “The people in that organization are awesome, I love my teammates. I like living in there in Baltimore-living down in the Harbor area. I really enjoyed playing here and I would enjoy to be back.”

McLouth said that seeing Oriole Park in Camden Yards filled to the brink in August, September, and October was one of the most exciting things he’s experienced in his lifetime, and he said the fans deserved what they did more than ever.

“I played in Baltimore I think twice as a visiting player, once with Pittsburgh, once with Atlanta, I think in ’08 and ’09. It was obviously a beautiful stadium but didn’t have much of excitement, which is normal for a team that hasn’t won in a long time. To see the way that stadium coming down the stretch in September, but especially those two playoff games was incredible.”

“As the playoffs were more of a real possibility and a likely possibility, you could feel that building every series and even every game really. I am so happy the fans got to experience that, to get a taste of that.”

And as much as McLouth has said thank you to Peter Angelos, Dan Duquette, and Buck Showalter over the last several months for giving him another shot at being a big league ball player, the last several weeks he has received as many words of appreciation from the thousands of Orioles fans who paid to see him rebound.

“When we got back on Friday night after we lost, I think there was 500-600 fans in that parking lot waiting for us. I think the most common thing I heard, even walking around Baltimore, was ‘Thank You,’ thank you for bringing baseball back to Baltimore and giving us some excitement.”

“Those first two playoff games, it was like they let out 15 years of frustration. You could just feel it, it was insane; it was the atmosphere and those are two games I’ll never forget.”

WNST thanks Nate McLouth for joining us! To hear the entire interview, check the BuyaToyota.com Audio Vault at WNST.net!

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Orioles-Yankees lineups and pre-game notes for Game 5 of ALDS

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Orioles-Yankees lineups and pre-game notes for Game 5 of ALDS

Posted on 12 October 2012 by Luke Jones

(Updated: 3:55 p.m.)

NEW YORK — It all comes down to one game as the Orioles and Yankees finish off an incredible American League Division Series in the deciding Game 5 on Friday at Yankee Stadium.

The Orioles will send Jason Hammel to the mound against New York’s CC Sabathia in a pitching rematch from Game 1 of the series last Sunday. Pitching in his first game in nearly a month, Hammel pitched well over 5 2/3 innings of work, allowing two earned runs and four hits while displaying some shaky control with four walks.

Sabathia earned the victory in game one as he allowed two earned runs in 8 2/3 innings of work to rebound from a mediocre showing against Baltimore in the regular season. The big left-hander makes his 17th career postseason start and is exactly who manager Joe Girardi wanted on the mound in a deciding game.

As for the state of the Orioles bullpen after 7 1/3 scoreless innings in Thursday night’s Game 4 win, manager Buck Showalter anticipated having all relievers available prior to the start of batting practice. Showalter revealed left-hander Wei-Yin Chen and right-hander Chris Tillman were also available to pitch in relief for Game 5. Those two would be the most likely candidates to pitch a potential Game 1 in Detroit on Saturday if the Orioles were to win and advance to the AL Championship Series.

Showalter explained that he regularly asks pitchers how they’re feeling but he ultimately makes the decision whether an individual is available in any given game.

“You don’t put them in that position [to choose],” Showalter said. “I haven’t heard anything that would make me think people are not available. Don’t hold me to it. We can gain something, hear something, find out something between now and game time, but so far so good.”

The biggest names in question for Game 5 are right-handed setup man Darren O’Day, left-hander Brian Matusz, and closer Jim Johnson. O’Day threw 30 pitches in his 2 2/3 innings of work on Thursday night and has appeared in all four games of the series.

Matusz only threw five pitches in Game 4, but he has also been used in all four games of the series and it remains to be seen if Showalter would be willing to use a pitcher still getting acclimated to a relief role for a third straight day. The young left hasn’t appeared in game three straight days since moving to the bullpen.

Johnson has also received extensive work in the series — appearing in all four games — but his 14 pitches to close out the 13th inning on Thursday night were a reasonable amount, making one assume he’d be available for an inning in Game 5 without many reservations.

There were no major surprises in the Baltimore lineup as Lew Ford will start in place of Jim Thome as the designated hitter and Robert Andino will play second base instead of Ryan Flaherty with the tough left-hander on the mound for the Yankees.

However, the Yankees made the bold decision to bench third baseman — and the highest paid player in the league — Alex Rodriguez for the start of the deciding Game 5. The 37-year-old is 2-for-16 with nine strikeouts in the series and will be replaced by Eric Chavez at third base despite the fact that Rodriguez has four career home runs against Hammel.

Game 3 hero Raul Ibanez was back in the lineup for the Yankees, batting fifth and serving as the designated hitter.

Here are Friday’s lineups …

BALTIMORE
LF Nate McLouth
SS J.J. Hardy
CF Adam Jones
RF Chris Davis
C Matt Wieters
3B Manny Machado
3B Mark Reynolds
DH Lew Ford
2B Robert Andino

SP Jason Hammel (2012 regular season: 8-6, 3.43 ERA)

NEW YORK
SS Derek Jeter
LF Ichiro Suzuki
2B Robinson Cano
1B Mark Teixeira
DH Raul Ibanez
RF Nick Swisher
CF Curtis Granderson
C Russell Martin
3B Eric Chavez

SP CC Sabathia (2012 regular season: 15-6, 3.38 ERA)

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Unforgettable series between Orioles, Yankees was destined for Game 5

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Unforgettable series between Orioles, Yankees was destined for Game 5

Posted on 12 October 2012 by Luke Jones

NEW YORK — After four nights of unforgettable postseason baseball, what more could you ask for than a Game 5 in the American League Division Series between the Orioles and Yankees?

Counted out by many after a crushing extra-inning loss in Game 3 Wednesday night, the Orioles and their ability to bounce back from defeat once again proved the naysayers wrong. Their 2-1 win over the New York Yankees in 13 innings Thursday night not only staved off elimination, but it was everything you could ask for in a playoff game.

When shortstop J.J. Hardy’s drive in the top of the 13th found the left-center gap to plate rookie Manny Machado, a collective sigh of relief was evident in the minds of Orioles hitters who had been held to only one run in their previous 19 innings.

“A little bit of everything, frustrated, fatigued,” Hardy said. “We had our back against the wall. It was win or go home, and we knew it. It was intense out there, and it was nice to come through there in the 13th.”

The Orioles and Yankees have played each other 22 times this season, with each club winning 11. New York has outscored Baltimore in those games by a narrow 103-101 margin.

Of the 43 innings played over the first four games, the clubs have been separated by more than one run at the conclusion of only two innings for the entire series.

The clubs have been tight all year, so why not leave it to a one-game scenario for the ultimate bragging rights and the ability to advance?

As bats on both sides have largely been dormant — and that’s putting it mildly — the pitching has dominated for each club. The series has supported the old adage that good pitching beats good hitting time and time again.

Friday’s series finale will feature Yankees ace CC Sabathia against Orioles starter Jason Hammel in a rematch of what we witnessed in Game 1. A trip to the AL Championship Series against the Detroit Tigers is on the line.

“As good a a team as they are, it’s an honor to be in Game 5 with them,” manager Buck Showalter said. “You knew all along that the road to where we want to try to get is going to have to pass through here. They deserve to be playing, having the home-field advantage. I don’t get too over-analytical about it. We come and compete.”

Several Orioles hitters acknowledged after Game 4 they’ve been pressing at the plate with runs at such a premium for each club. As a result, the averages have plummeted in each lineup as the struggles of Adam Jones and Matt Wieters have been matched by Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, and Curtis Granderson.

Veteran Joe Saunders turned in a second straight strong performance in an elimination game on Thursday, but it was the bullpen that shined as it threw 7 1/3 innings of shutout ball. Pedro Strop, Tommy Hunter, and Luis Ayala made their postseason debuts after not pitching in over a week but contributed to the Orioles’ ability to keep the New York bats silent.

And it’s a good thing too as the Orioles finished 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and found even fewer scoring opportunities against the New York bullpen later in the game.

“Pitchers have been making their pitches,” Hardy said. “Maybe we’re all trying to do too much. There hasn’t been a whole lot of opportunities to score runs, so when there are those opportunities, I think we’re trying a little bit too hard.”

Regardless of what happens on Friday, the Orioles once again displayed the toughness and tenacity necessary to go deep into the postseason, even if their talent in other areas may eventually prevent them from fulfilling their World Series dreams.

After a 93-win season, a Wild Card Game victory, and one of the biggest turnarounds in club history, the Orioles now found themselves in a winner-take-all elimination game against the Yankees, the franchise that’s become the focal point of frustration for clubs such as Baltimore who haven’t been able to compete for a variety of reasons over the years.

Friday isn’t about payroll or prior playoff experience.

It comes down to one game.

Whether you’re 42-year-old Jim Thome or the 20-year-old Machado still establishing himself in the big leagues, what more could you have dreamed about for this club and this season?

“It’s been a great experience,” Machado said. “I can’t ask for any better. I’ve got a great group of guys here, a great team. It’s the best experience I’ve had playing baseball.”

I suspect it ranks right up there for Orioles fans watching the experience unfold.

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Orioles-Yankees Game 4 starting lineups and pre-game notes

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Orioles-Yankees Game 4 starting lineups and pre-game notes

Posted on 11 October 2012 by Luke Jones

NEW YORK — Needing to win Thursday night to preserve their season for at least another day, the Orioles take the field against the New York Yankees in Game 4 of the American League Division Series at Yankee Stadium.

Trailing in the best-of-five series by a 2-1 marging, a Baltimore win would force a Game 5 slated for 5:07 p.m. on Friday. However, should the St. Louis Cardinals close out their series with the Washington Nationals on Thursday afternoon, the final game of the Orioles-Yankees series would be moved to 7:07 p.m. on Friday evening.

Here are tonight’s lineups as the Orioles send veteran left-hander Joe Saunders to the hill against New York righty Phil Hughes:

BALTIMORE
LF Nate McLouth
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Chris Davis
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
DH Jim Thome
1B Mark Reynolds
2B Ryan Flaherty
3B Manny Machado

SP Joe Saunders (2012 regular season: 9-13, 4.07 ERA)

NEW YORK
DH Derek Jeter
LF Ichiro Suzuki
1B Mark Teixeira
2B Robinson Cano
3B Alex Rodriguez
RF Nick Swisher
C Russell Martin
CF Curtis Granderson
SS Jayson Nix

SP Phil Hughes (2012 regular season: 16-13, 4.23 ERA)

Lost in the aftermath of the devastating loss on Wednesday night for the Orioles was Showalter’s announcement that the 31-year-old Saunders had been selected to make the Game 4 start after right-hander Chris Tillman was also being considered for the task. Saunders made one start against the Yankees this season, allowing one earned run in 5 1/3 innings in Baltimore to collect a victory on Sept. 8.

“Joe obviously [is] coming off a real good start in a pressure situation, a game that we had to win, and he’ll find himself back in that spot again,” Showalter said. “Joe is a guy that gives you a chance to win, and he’ll compete, and we feel good with him out there.”

Though Tillman’s overall numbers were better than Saunders this season, Showalter is siding with experience and also considered Saunders’ success against left-handed hitters this season. In 172 plate appearances made by lefty hitters in the regular season, Saunders held them to a .199 batting average and did not allow a home run.

This is difficult to overlook considering the power and production brought to the table by Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano and center fielder Curtis Granderson. Cano is 5-for-18 in his career against Saunders while Granderson is 4-for-16 with one home run.

Of course, the Yankees have plenty of intimidating hitters from the right side of the plate, but the leg injury to Derek Jeter — he’ll serve as the designated hitter as a result — and the struggles of third baseman Alex Rodriguez — he’s been dropped to the fifth spot in the order for Game 4 — likely aided in Showalter’s decision to match up against New York’s left-handed hitters.

In six career starts against the Yankees, Saunders is 3-1 with a 5.82 earned run average and is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA (six innings) in the Bronx. His only start in New York came at old Yankee Stadium on Aug. 11, 2006.

This will also be Saunders’ second opportunity in six days to pitch for the Orioles in a “win or go home” format as he pitched 5 2/3 strong innings against the Texas Rangers to earn the victory in the wild card play-in game last Friday.

Hughes is 6-4 with a 5.10 ERA in 17 career appearances (14 starts) against Baltimore. In four starts against the Orioles this season, the 25-year-old went 2-2 with a 4.76 ERA in 22 2/3 innings of work.

Prior to Thursday’s game, the Yankees announced that manager Joe Girardi’s father, Jerry, died on Saturday at age 81. Girardi didn’t make the news known to the public. His father had been suffering from Alzheimer’s.

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Orioles beaten at own illogical game in devastating 3-2 loss

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Orioles beaten at own illogical game in devastating 3-2 loss

Posted on 11 October 2012 by Luke Jones

NEW YORK — Sixteen straight wins in extra-inning games.

A 76-0 record when leading after seven innings this season.

Both streaks finished.

All season long, the Orioles have defied logic in completing a 24-game turnaround to win the American League Wild Card to meet the New York Yankees in the Division Series.

Their 3-2 loss in 12 innings at Yankee Stadium was as illogical as anything from which they benefited in the 2012 season. And the crushing defeat leaves them on the verge of elimination as veteran left-hander Joe Saunders will go to the hill to try to keep the Orioles alive in Game 4.

Jim Johnson had faltered only three nights earlier in allowing five runs in the ninth inning of the Orioles’ 7-2 defeat in Game 1. The closer had converted 51 of 54 save opportunities this season to earn his first trip to the All-Star Game. There was no way he’d stumble again with a 3-2 lead in the ninth inning and his work on Monday night reinforced that claim.

He certainly wasn’t supposed to have any trouble against pinch-hitter Raul Ibanez, who Yankees manager Joe Girardi shockingly sent to the plate to bat for the struggling Alex Rodriguez. Lifting the future Hall of Fame third baseman for an admittedly hot-swinging 40-year-old was as bold as any of the curious moves made by the Orioles this season that worked out for no sound reason at all, it seemed.

And Baltimore saw firsthand what it felt like to fall victim to something seeming to be illogical as Ibanez deposited a 1-0 fastball into the right-field seats to tie the game.

“If you make your pitch, it doesn’t really matter,” Johnson said. “That’s what it comes down to. Ibanez, he’s a good low-ball hitter and obviously he has that hook swing. It’s just pitching. You’ve got to pitch down, change speeds and locate.”

The blast meant extra innings, a territory in which the Orioles hadn’t failed since April 11 when they were coming off their second straight loss in extra frames — ironically against the same Yankees — in two nights.

The Baltimore bats remained silent as they had for most of the night before Ibanez stepped to the plate to lead off the bottom of the 12th against left-hander Brian Matusz.

Lightning couldn’t strike twice, could it? Certainly not in extra innings where the Orioles have been king?

Ibanez crushed a Matusz fastball into the right-field seats on the first pitch of the inning, sending the Yankees home happy and up 2-1 in the five-game series, pushing the Orioles to the brink of elimination.

It was difficult to believe as the Orioles discussed in the clubhouse what had just happened to them moments earlier.

“You never want to experience a situation like that,” Matusz said. “Whether it’s a game-winning walk-off home run or in the first inning. The ultimate goal is to go out there and throw strikes and put up zeros. It’s not a good feeling, but you have to stay positive and move forward.”

As much as fans will point to the failures of Johnson and Matusz in not being able to subdue Ibanez’s bat, the Orioles’ inability to generate much of anything offensively doomed their opportunity to take a series lead heading into Game 4. New York pitching retired 21 of 22 Orioles hitters at one point Wednesday night and the club has plated just seven runs in the first three games of the series.

Their two All-Star hitters, Adam Jones and Matt Wieters, are by no means the only ones not hitting, but the pair has combined for just three hits in their first 33 postseason at-bats counting the wild card play-in game against the Texas Rangers. A fielding miscue by Jones that led to a run-scoring triple by Derek Jeter certainly didn’t help matters, either.

The Orioles lineup did little — rookies Ryan Flaherty and Manny Machado hit solo homers to account for the offensive production — to support the dominating performance from Miguel Gonzalez, who struck out eight and allowed one run in seven innings of work.

The offense simply hasn’t been good enough, and it’s a major reason why the Orioles find their backs to the wall. And the poor production placed them in a position for Girardi to send Ibanez instead of Rodriguez to the plate with a chance to tie the game with one swing.

Even with Rodriguez’s immense struggles, it didn’t seem to make sense to bench the highest paid player in the game, regardless of his struggles.

But it worked.

As a result, the Orioles now face the colossal challenge of winning two straight win-or-go-home games at Yankee Stadium to advance to the AL Championship Series. We’ll see if they’re ready to answer the bell in the way they have countless times this season, albeit with stakes that were never so high.

“It’s pretty much win or go home tomorrow, isn’t it?” Jones said. “There’s pretty much no turning back. We’re going to have the same attitude, the same mentality we’ve had since the first day of spring training. We’re going to have fun, let it fly, and live with the results.”

 

 

 

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Hammel to start potential Game 5 and other Game 4 pre-game notes

Posted on 10 October 2012 by Luke Jones

(Update: Joe Saunders was named the Game 4 starter following the 3-2 loss to the Yankees on Wednesday night.)

NEW YORK — As the Orioles prepared to play Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the New York Yankees on Wednesday night, their starting pitcher for Game 4 remained a mystery.

Manager Buck Showalter will wait until after Game 3 to decide between left-hander Joe Saunders and right-hander Chris Tillman to make Thursday’s start at Yankee Stadium. Saunders would be working on five days’ rest while Tillman hasn’t pitched since last Wednesday against Tampa Bay in the final game of the regular season.

“We were kind of hoping you would tell us,” said Saunders, drawing laughter from the media gathered prior to Game 3. “Because we don’t know yet. Whoever it is, me or Chris, we’re going to go out there and do our job.”

To the surprise of nearly everyone outside the organization, Saunders pitched 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball against the Texas Rangers in the AL Wild Card game last Friday to help land the Orioles in the Division Series. Saunders made one start against the Yankees in the regular season, allowing two earned runs in 5 1/3 innings of work at Camden Yards on Sept. 8.

In six career starts against New York, the 31-year-old Saunders is 3-1 with a 5.82 earned run average in 34 innings.

Along with Game 3 starter Miguel Gonzalez, Tillman was one of the biggest surprises of the second half and finished the regular season with a 9-3 record and a 2.93 ERA.

In two starts against the Yankees this season, Tillman was 1-0 with a 6.75 ERA in eight innings of work. His start at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 2 was cut short after three innings due to elbow stiffness.

Most consider Tillman to be the favorite to receive the ball as long as neither pitcher is required to pitch in relief behind Gonzalez on Wednesday night. However, the challenge of facing lefties such as Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson make the lefty Saunders a more appealing option despite his overall numbers being inferior to Tillman’s this season.

“I think you’ve just got to treat it like any other start,” Tillman said. “You can’t put too much pressure on yourself. It’s not fair to yourself [and] not fair to the team.”

In other news, Jason Hammel will receive the ball for Game 5 against Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia if necessary on Friday. The two faced off in Game 1, which resulted in a 7-2 win for New York.

Showalter was asked about the decision in August to move left-hander Brian Matusz to the bullpen, who provided a major lift in the absence of then-injured southpaw Troy Patton and with the struggles of power arm Pedro Strop. The Baltimore manager revealed Matusz will likely return to a starting role upon reporting to spring training in Sarasota next February.

“Compared to the options we had and the trade market and some other things, we thought Brian could do as well if not better than some of the others coming in,” Showalter said about the decision. “Brian will more than likely go into the spring as a starter and then we think he can go back and do this [if needed] but he needs to get his innings. It was also a carrot for him to come back to the big leagues, so there was a lot of want-to there.”

NOTES: The Orioles were 6-3 in the Bronx this season, outscoring the Yankees by a 49-32 margin. … Their six wins in New York were their highest season total since winning eight in 1976. Baltimore won all three series in Yankee Stadium in the same year for the first time since 1976. … Making their third appearance in the ALDS, the Orioles are 3-1 on the road with two of those wins coming in Seattle in 1997 and one in Cleveland in 1996. The Orioles won each of those series. … Center fielder Adam Jones was announced as a candidate for the 2012 Hank Aaron Award on Wednesday afternoon. It recognizes the top offensive performers in each league. Fan voting opened at MLB.com Wednesday and runs through Oct. 16. Winners will be announced during the World Series.

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Predictions of Jones, Wieters playing October baseball in New York come true

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Predictions of Jones, Wieters playing October baseball in New York come true

Posted on 09 October 2012 by Luke Jones

There was a time not long ago when many predicted Adam Jones and Matt Wieters would eventually be playing postseason baseball at Yankee Stadium.

The only difference in that prophecy was the Orioles’ center fielder and catcher would be wearing the pinstripes of the New York Yankees after moving on from Baltimore in free agency in a few years. Instead, after an improbable 93-win season, the Orioles head to New York tied 1-1 with Game 3 of the American League Division Series set for Wednesday night.

To survive and advance, the Orioles need only to repeat what they did on three separate occasions at Yankee Stadium in the regular season. Winning two of three means Baltimore advances to play either the Detroit Tigers or the Oakland Athletics in the AL Championship Series.

The Orioles were reminded of their 6-3 record at Yankee Stadium often after their 3-2 victory in Game 2 Monday night, but there was no hubris in describing the task in front of them. The club knows it won’t be easy.

“Everything’s heightened now,” Jones said. “We’ve just got to go there [and] win the inning. It’s not [simply saying], ‘Oh, we need to win Game 3.’ It’s not about that. We need to go out and win every inning of Game 3 first.”

Predictably, the Orioles are viewed as the underdog in this series against the playoff-tested Yankees. It’s understandable when remembering Jones and Wieters were still in grade school the last time Baltimore found itself in this position.

But don’t tell the Orioles they’re the young shepherd boy carrying a sling and a stone into battle against the powerful giant in the Bronx. The analogy doesn’t apply in their minds after finishing only two games behind the Yankees in the AL East and tying the season series at 9-9 this year.

“The David and Goliath or whatever you’re talking about, that’s not something that’s a mentality for us in there,” manager Buck Showalter said. “There are no flukes in baseball. There are no Cinderellas. You play too many games. You play 162 games. And that mentality might go for a short span, but it doesn’t play for very long, believe me.”

The success at Yankee Stadium came at different points in the season as the Orioles finished off three-game series wins in early May, early August and early September. Baltimore outscored New York in those nine games by a 49-32 margin.

The Orioles acknowledged those results in the regular season don’t mean anything now as they walk into a hostile environment to deal with the Yankees’ mystique that can leave opponents intimidated against a club that’s won 27 World Series titles. But the quiet confidence expressed by many players following Game 2 convinced anyone who’s followed the club all season that they won’t be intimidated.

“We played well there, but we haven’t played postseason baseball there,” Jones said. “That’s going to be a totally different atmosphere. Their fans are going to be crazy. Just like our whole stadium was packed full of orange and black, there’s going to be that dark blue. I know there’s going to be some orange and black up there, but you know the scenarios are going to change. It’s going to be their home-field advantage, but we’ve got to go there and try to silence that crowd as much as we can.”

Hearing Jones and Wieters talk about a playoff trip to Yankee Stadium has been surreal for anyone who dared dream of the Orioles finding themselves in the postseason over the last few years. Many feared Jones and Wieters would be long gone by the time the club would be in a position to play October baseball.

Of course, much of that trepidation disappeared earlier this season when Jones inked a six-year, $85.5 million contract extension. Wieters isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2015 season, but their long-term commitment to Jones has reaffirmed the organization’s commitment to keeping their young talent in Baltimore.

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Orioles-Yankees lineups for Game 2 of ALDS

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Orioles-Yankees lineups for Game 2 of ALDS

Posted on 08 October 2012 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The Orioles will send left-hander Wei-Yin Chen to the mound in hopes of evening the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees at one game apiece.

Here are Monday night’s lineups as the Orioles face off against Yankees veteran left-hander Andy Pettitte for the first time since Sept. 19, 2010. The Baltimore lineup surprisingly includes left-handed designated hitter Jim Thome, who hasn’t faced southpaw pitching very often this season.

The 42-year-old is 5-for-28 against left-handed pitching this season but does have three home runs.

BALTIMORE
LF Nate McLouth
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Chris Davis
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
1B Mark Reynolds
DH Jim Thome
3B Manny Machado
2B Robert Andino

SP Wei-Yin Chen (12-11, 4.02 ERA)

NEW YORK
SS Derek Jeter
LF Ichiro Suzuki
3B Alex Rodriguez
2B Robinson Cano
RF Nick Swisher
1B Mark Teixeira
C Russell Martin
CF Curtis Granderson
DH Eduardo Nunez

SP Andy Pettitte (5-4, 2.87 ERA)

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