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Caps Have The Right Coach in Adam Oates

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Caps Have The Right Coach in Adam Oates

Posted on 06 March 2013 by Ed Frankovic

Wow, now that was an entertaining hockey game.

The Washington Capitals spotted the Boston Bruins three first period goals then roared back with two in the middle frame, the tying tally with 6:05 to go in regulation, before winning the game, 4-3, with Eric Fehr’s top shelf wrister just 37 seconds into overtime. It was a contest that saw exciting plays and odd man rushes at both sides of the rink. There also was lots of physical play and some huge saves at both ends. No doubt anyone who paid to watch it received their money’s worth.

In addition, it was a win the Caps needed to keep their Southeast Division title hopes alive and they have won seven of their last 10 games to improve their record to 9-11-1 (19 points). It also was their most impressive victory of the season because it came against the team that likely is the best and most complete club in the Eastern Conference. Boston is 14-3-3. They have four good lines, three solid defensive pairs, and a good goalie (Tuukka Rask). Just two springs ago they won the Stanley Cup and are serious contenders once again in 2013.

So to give a quality team like the Bruins a three spot in the opening frame and come back and win says a lot about the Caps and their progress since their 2-8-1 start. This club, weak in talent in some key areas, is starting to play some good and inspired hockey.

In my book, the credit for that goes to Coach Adam Oates.

In Tuesday night’s victory, Washington actually came out and played a decent first period despite the early hole on the scoreboard. They were working hard and generating chances with a ferocious forecheck. But their special teams let them down in the first 20 minutes yielding a shorthanded goal on a penalty shot and a power play marker. Many teams might have packed it in and some coaches might have yelled at their club and likely ended any chances of a comeback.

But Oates didn’t do that. The Caps I talked to after the game, Fehr (1G, 2A), Steve Oleksy (1A), and Braden Holtby (30 saves), all to a man said it was the coach’s message between periods that allowed the Capitals to stay focused on the task at hand.

The Hall of Famer told the team that they did a lot of good things in the first period and to stick to their system. Oates’ troops did exactly that and Washington was able to chip away at the Bruins lead.

Much has been made of the Caps coaching system over the last 18 months. The popular and gregarious Bruce Boudreau did a lot of super things for the Caps but was let go in November of 2011. Bruce is a very good coach, as evidenced by what his Anaheim Ducks are doing so far this season, but his time had run its course in Washington. In came Dale Hunter and while he earned the players respect and nearly produced a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals, the organization didn’t like his defensive system. So all last spring the talk around the team was that owner Ted Leonsis and GM George McPhee needed to hire a hybrid of the two coaches. One who had an aggressive system like Boudreau but also one who had a calm demeanor and would command respect, like Hunter.

Guess what? Oates is exactly a combination of the good of both Boudreau and Hunter. He REALLY knows hockey from a technical and tactical standpoint. But he also knows people and players too. He is calm and doesn’t get too high or low. When Washington was struggling early on he preached patience and adherence to the system. He cautioned it would take time but he was not afraid to point out individual or team shortcomings. He’s a straight shooter.

So when Oates came in to talk to the media after a thrilling victory, it was no surprise that he conducted his press conference in the same fashion as he did after a loss or during the early season struggles. He was honest, forthcoming, and it is clear he wasn’t too high about things even though his team is on a roll right now. He talked about continuing to work hard and about going over some of the things they were doing wrong that led to too many chances for Boston, which fortunately did not come back to haunt them on this night. He talked about players keeping their emotions in check. He talked about the thought process in deciding to keep Holtby in the game after allowing three early goals. Basically he said all of the things you’d expect from a good coach.

And that is what the Capitals have right now, a good hockey coach, who will only get better.

Management definitely needs to make some player moves to get this team back to the elite level, and making trades during a winning run certainly puts an organization in a stronger position to do that. So McPhee and Leonsis have that going for them, which is nice.

But one thing they don’t have to worry about is looking for a head coach again. The way this club works and reacts to their bench boss certainly justifies one thing for me:

They got the coaching decision absolutely right in choosing Adam Oates.

Notes: Washington lost the face off battle 36-32, primarily because Mike Ribeiro went 1-9 from the dot. However, the Caps second goal, scored by Tomas Kundratek, came directly off of a Nicklas Backstrom (3 assists) win from the dot…Alex Ovechkin had a wild night with an assist, two penalties, 13 attempted shots, three takeaways, three hits, and two blocked shots in 23:19 of ice time. He also crashed into the Bruins goal three times. He was up and down the ice on both offense and defense and it was clear he was on a mission to get a Caps victory…Defensemen Roman Hamrlik was put on waivers on Tuesday…Mike Green (groin) and Troy Brouwer (illness) both missed the game…Oleksy played just over 10 minutes in his NHL debut and had an assist and was +2. He was paired with Tom Poti on defense.

 PROGRAMMING NOTE: I will be on WNST 1570 AM at 7:45 am on Wednesday morning talking Caps hockey with Drew Forrester. Listen Live via WNST.NET

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UMBC visits Boston U. Saturday afternoon

Posted on 25 January 2013 by WNST Staff

UMBC makes its final trip to Boston, Mass. to take on the Terriers in an America East Conference contest on Sat., Jan. 26. Tip-off time at the Case Gymnasium is set for 1:00 p.m. with Paul Mittermeier on the call.

RETRIEVER UPDATE: UMBC (2-4 AE, 4-15) rallied from a 15-point second-half deficit, but could not complete the comeback and fell, 67-60, to Stony Brook at the RAC Arena on Jan. 23. The setback was UMBC’s first at home in conference play (2-1) this season.  Four Retrievers scored in double figures, but UMBC could not overcome a 1-of-14 start to the game from the floor. SR G Ryan Cook (15.7) has scored in double figures in 17 of 19 games this season. JR G Quentin Jones has started the last four games and has 18 assists/9 turnovers in AEC action. 

TERRIER UPDATE:  The Terriers (4-3, 10-10 ) earned their fifth win in six games, an improbable 85-80 overtime win at Albany on Jan. 23. Boston U. trailed by six with 10 seconds left but a pair of threes by JR G D.J. Irving, the second off a steal with 2.5 seconds left, forced overtime. Boston U. then made all six of their shots in the extra session and poured in 22 points in five minutes for the win. FR G Maurice Watson had 21 points and seven assists for the winners. Irving leads a balanced attack with 14.6 ppg while Watston (10.7 ppg) leads the conference with 4.8 apg.

WHO’S UP NEXT:  The Retrievers complete the first half of the conference schedule with a game at Binghamton on Wed., Jan. 30.

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SP FBN BENGALS RAVENS

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Did Not See This Coming

Posted on 22 January 2013 by Tom Federline

The Baltimore Ravens are going to the Super Bowl! Happy New Year? Surprised? Divine Intervention (according to Ray Lewis)? Are you kiddin’ me? Yes, Yes, Possibly and No. How about if we just call it “pleasantly unexpected?” Or maybe ……the team is simply on a roll, playing inspired football. Whatever it is, it has Baltimore and its fans energized. The Ravens are headed to New Orleans to play in the NFL championship game.

I had written the Ravens off after the Houston Texans blow out game on October 21st. Ray-Ray was gone, Camera Cameron was still at the helm, defense was porous and they had just come off “gift wins” against the Kansas City Chiefs and Dallas Cowgirls. Anyone out there claiming, “I knew they were going to make it to the Super Bowl”, is either lying or ignorant to the game of football. Bye week  – then handily beat the Browns and Raiders. They receive 2 more “gift wins” at Steelers and at Chargers. Then they close it out with 4 of 5 losses. Oh yeah, the Ravens were by far - the peoples choice to head to the promised land. Crash and burn – I thought. Thanks to sub-par efforts by the rest of the division – the Ravens were handed the division title and slipped into the playoffs.

A few significant events happened along the way, though. 1. Camera Cameron was fired – “They have a chance!” 2. Ray-Ray was coming back for the playoffs -”They have a chance!” 3. Ray-Ray announces retirement – “They have motivation!” Rut-row rest of NFL, look out – it’s a brand new ballgame. Indy Irsays into town for Wildcard game – Ray Lewis’ last home game – yeah right, Irsays – you were leaving Baltimore with a win on that one ……..don’t think so. Travel to Mile High against another nemesis, Peyton Manning – A Ravens Classic game surfaces with a double overtime victory. Finally they travel to the dreaded Northeast against a whiner – result is a second half beat down – Ravens are off to the Super Bowl. Yeah, buddy.

None of those circumstances were on my radar. You can wish, you can hope, you can dream. But when such positive results endure such an unexpected series of events – it is just darn good for the soul. Baltimore is back on the map. The Orioles with their magic season and now the Ravens with their unexpected run of success. Win or lose, it’s been a nice past two sports seasons here in Charm City.

How about Rays retirement party being delayed 2 weeks? Hey Boston, MA – how was your season ending party Sunday evening? Better yet, how was your Monday? Come February 3rd though, Super Bowl Sunday will be Ray Lewis’, “Last Dance” – Donna Summer. In my book, Ray Lewis is one of the top 3 linebackers of all-time (if not #1). He is also the greatest team motivator and leader, I have seen in my lifetime. From the first game against Oakland at Memorial Stadium up until this past Sunday, Baltimore Raven and football fans all over, have been blessed with the opportunity to witness a legend in the making. Ray Lewis is taking/willing this team to the Promised Land.

In my point of view, he is a little over the top with his preaching, praying and quoting of bible verses. He is a passionate man on a mission to close out his football legacy………….whatever works Ray………you play it out. Carry John Horribaugh and your teammates as far as you can. Let them ride your coat tails Ray-Ray. Horribaugh has been on them the whole time. One more game, one more ride, one last dance.

And to think this season started out with “Replacement Refs”. GO RAVENS!

D.I.Y.

Fedman

 

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Joel Ward

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Ravens and Ray Lewis Have a Big Fan in Capitals Joel Ward

Posted on 14 January 2013 by Ed Frankovic

It is no secret that many of the current Washington Capitals are Redskins fans given that the club plays in DC, but there is one very notable exception who actively supports the Baltimore Ravens, and that is forward Joel Ward.

Ward, who scored the series clinching goal against Boston in overtime last spring that put the Caps into round two, has somewhat of a Ravens game day tradition on twitter blasting out his “all Ravens” tweets. This past Saturday, before Baltimore went out and upset the Denver Broncos, #42 posted the following:

 

I caught up with Ward at Capitals practice on Sunday and asked him about his thoughts on the Baltimore victory in the mile high city.

“Obviously I was screaming like a school girl, I was pretty excited. It was huge, quite the ending. I can only imagine what the flight home could be for those guys,” said the winger who likely enjoyed a similar flight home from Beantown last spring following his OT winner.

Ward, who grew up in Canada and worked his way through juniors and the minors before catching on with the Minnesota Wild and then the Nashville Predators at the NHL level, is a Ravens fans for obvious reasons: #52.

“I’m a big Ray Lewis guy. Been a big fan of just the way he plays the game, his leadership. It’s pretty tough to do as an individual what he does from a leadership standpoint in that locker room and gets the boys fired up. You can tell the guys are following him. I’ve been his fan for a long time now. It just so happened that I came to DC but I’m still a Ravens fan,” added Ward.

Ward, who still hasn’t had a chance to meet Lewis yet but has met some of the other Ravens, attended #52′s last game in Baltimore two Sundays ago and witnessed the famed Lewis “Squirrel Dance” in person.

“I was pretty close, right above the tunnel there. It was pretty cool to see,” said a smiling Ward.

On the ice, Ward looks to improve on a difficult first year in Washington where he battled an injury all season that hampered his ability to get up and down the rink.

“I had a little bit of a hernia issue last year. You want to play is the bottom line, I’m not going to dwell on it too much. I just kind of fought through it each day and battled. I did have surgery in the offseason so now I feel a lot better. It’s something I had to deal with, it’s part of the game. Towards the end of the season we did a lot of good things, I thought we were close, one game away from moving on,” added Ward.

This season it is expected that Ward will see increased ice time given his improved health and the fast pace that Coach Adam Oates wants to play to create turnovers and more scoring opportunities.

“I feel good now…my mind is a lot better than it was before. Playing every day with a little bit of a strain is real tough but now I feel good physically and mentally. I’m anxious to get out there and run into a few bodies,” finished Ward, sounding a bit like his favorite Baltimore Raven.

 

 

 

 

 

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One year later, Orioles have real reason to celebrate

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One year later, Orioles have real reason to celebrate

Posted on 29 September 2012 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — If you’re caught up in the hysteria of the Orioles’ impossible run to the postseason looking more and more like reality, you may not have noticed Friday marked the one-year anniversary of the 2011 season finale.

Of course, the final day of last season may go down as the most exciting in the history of major league baseball with division races coming down to the final inning of the year. Tampa Bay completed an improbable comeback win over the New York Yankees while the 93-loss Orioles knocked Boston out of the playoffs with a dramatic 4-3 walk-off win that ended with a Robert Andino hit to score Nolan Reimold in the bottom of the ninth inning.

The famed “Curse of the Andino” had been born as the Orioles celebrated like they had won the World Series. Yes, it was a fun moment in a make-believe sort of way and players were entitled to a night of celebration after the grind of a 162-game schedule, but the celebration was artificial — no matter how good it may have felt to eliminate the Red Sox from the postseason — knowing the Orioles had just completed their sixth straight season of 90 or more losses.

A year later, the roles are the opposite of what we’ve come to expect over the years as the Red Sox limped to town with a lame-duck manager and a gutted roster on the cusp of 90 losses. In contrast, the Orioles won their 90th game of the season in a 9-1 series-opening win over Boston and reduced their wild card magic number to three to clinch their first postseason berth since 1997.

Not one to gush over individual moments or buy into media concoctions, manager Buck Showalter was asked prior to Friday’s game whether the 2011 finale was the catalyst for the unexpected prosperity the Orioles found this season. His answer was surprising, even if it was delivered in Showalter’s unassuming way.

“I can’t say it didn’t help. It does,” Showalter said. “You create your own intensity and this is a self-starter group. I think once again, we fed off the emotions of our fans, too.”

No one should buy too much stock into the final game of the 2011 regular season being the main reason why the Orioles stand only a game behind the Yankees in the American League East entering Saturday. Just take a look at the roster and you’ll see too many different faces to believe what happened last Sept. 28 was a franchise-altering moment.

But it might have offered just enough of a taste of motivation to the holdovers from 2011 to push through the tough times while also remembering how difficult it was for the Red Sox to complete their postseason mission despite being in excellent position only weeks before the 2011 finale.

With a plethora of unlikely heroes contributing on any given night, the Orioles turned to second baseman Ryan Flaherty and starting pitcher Chris Tillman on Friday night to begin the most crucial series of the season — to this point, anyway — against Boston. Flaherty’s grand slam in the first put the game out of reach as the Rule 5 selection collected a career-high five runs batted in after languishing on the bench for most of the season.

A year ago when the Orioles were knocking the Red Sox out of the playoffs, Flaherty was stuck in the Cubs’ minor league system, uncertain where his future might take him. Now he finds himself in a platoon with Andino, receiving regular starts against right-handed pitching.

“It seems like every night it’s someone new, whether it’s a pitcher, hitter, a play in the field, something,” Flaherty said. “Just keep on riding it and, tomorrow, nine more innings.”

Not even invited to join the club last September despite being on the 40-man roster, Tillman began the 2012 season in Triple-A Norfolk as a virtual afterthought behind the other tabbed members of the cavalry in Jake Arrieta, Brian Matusz, and Zach Britton. Just over five months later, he’s the only one of the four in the starting rotation as Tillman looks to be a virtual lock for the potential postseason rotation.

He took Friday’s crucial start in stride as he didn’t allow a hit after Scott Podsednik led off the game with a bunt single and retired the final 14 batters he faced in eight stellar innings of work to improve his record to 9-2.

“There is not one game bigger than the other,” Tillman said. “I always try to go out there, go deep in the game and give my team the best chance to win. We are getting to the nitty-gritty here, but we have to focus on tomorrow’s game and not look ahead.”

Showalter’s best accomplishment among many this season has been his ability to balance out his players’ emotions on a daily basis. They’re never too high when they win or too low in defeat. And they’re never caught up in how big a certain game might be, an attitude that will serve them well over the season’s final week and into October.

These days, the Orioles clubhouse is anything but celebratory after wins as an outsider wouldn’t have a clue in figuring out whether the team had won or loss that night.

It’s a stark contrast from the on-field dog pile of a year ago over something that just wasn’t all that meaningful in the long run.

Or, so we thought.

No matter how you view the “Curse of the Andino” and what it meant to this club heading into the 2012 season, the Orioles have a real reason to celebrate this time around.

It’s no longer about playing the role of a spoiler or basking in the glow of a make-believe celebration because there’s nothing better to look forward to. The Orioles are for real and their slaughtering of the down-and-out Red Sox on Friday night was just the latest example in proving that.

Instead of deferring to the heavyweight and hoping to get lucky, they’ve become the team delivering the knockout blow.

Boy, how can things change in only a year.

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Red Sox hope to spoil Orioles house party in Baltimore this weekend

Posted on 28 September 2012 by WNST Staff

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Orioles take magic to Fenway for key weekend in Boston

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Orioles take magic to Fenway for key weekend in Boston

Posted on 21 September 2012 by WNST Staff

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Are you ready for a Fenway Park trip with your Orioles gear via WNST?

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Are you ready for a Fenway Park trip with your Orioles gear via WNST?

Posted on 05 September 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

Back to Events

fenway-park

Join us for WNST Orange Roadtrip to Fenway Park & Boston (Sept. 21-23)

Start:
September 21, 2012
End:
September 23, 2012
Venue:
Fenway Park
Phone:
617-226-6666
Address:
4 Yawkey Way, Boston, MA, United States, 02215
CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE WNST TRIP TO FENWAY PARK

Join the WNST crew as we we take our first-ever Baltimore baseball roadtrip to Boston to see the Birds battle the Red Sox at Fenway Park on Sept. 21 & 22.

WNST has been in existence since 1998. We’ve taken more than 11,000 Baltimore sports fans on roadtrips over the years and we’ve NEVER taken a playoff-push September on-the-road-to-the-postseason trip until now!

We’re very excited about the opportunity to see meaningful baseball at Fenway Park in the fall!

Our WNST orange charter bus will depart White Marsh Mall area at 6am on Friday, Sept. 21 and arrive in Boston for a late lunch. We’ll provide transportation to and from Fenway Park for Friday’s 7:05 p.m. game and again on Saturday for a 1:05 p.m. contest.

Our trip will return early Sunday morning and we hope to be back in Baltimore in time for lunch on Sunday afternoon (and of course, the Ravens home game that night with the New England Patriots).

WNST Fenway Roadtrip includes:

Roundtrip motorcoach transportation provided by Gunther Motorcoach

One outfield seat to two (2) Baltimore at Boston baseball games (Friday & Saturday)

Two (2) nights hotel accommodations at Holiday Inn Express-Waltham

Food, beer, light snacks for ride to Boston on Friday morning

PRICING:

SINGLE ($475)

DOUBLE ($350) two people in each room

TRIPLE ($325) three people in each room

QUAD ($300) four people in each room

 

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE

 

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Join us for WNST Orange Roadtrip to Fenway Park & Boston (Sept. 21-23)

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Join us for WNST Orange Roadtrip to Fenway Park & Boston (Sept. 21-23)

Posted on 05 September 2012 by WNST Trips

Join the WNST crew as we we take our first-ever Baltimore baseball roadtrip to Boston to see the Birds battle the Red Sox at Fenway Park on Sept. 21 & 22.

WNST has been in existence since 1998. We’ve taken more than 11,000 Baltimore sports fans on roadtrips over the years and we’ve NEVER taken a playoff-push September on-the-road-to-the-postseason trip until now!

We’re very excited about the opportunity to see meaningful baseball at Fenway Park in the fall!

Our WNST orange charter bus will depart White Marsh Mall area at 6am on Friday, Sept. 21 and arrive in Boston for a late lunch. We’ll provide transportation to and from Fenway Park for Friday’s 7:05 p.m. game and again on Saturday for a 1:05 p.m. contest.

Our trip will return early Sunday morning and we hope to be back in Baltimore in time for lunch on Sunday afternoon (and of course, the Ravens home game that night with the New England Patriots).

WNST Fenway Roadtrip includes:

Roundtrip motorcoach transportation provided by Gunther Motorcoach

One outfield seat to two (2) Baltimore at Boston baseball games (Friday & Saturday)

Two (2) nights hotel accommodations at Holiday Inn Express-Waltham

Food, beer, light snacks for ride to Boston on Friday morning

PRICING:

SINGLE ($475)

DOUBLE ($350) two people in each room

TRIPLE ($325) three people in each room

QUAD ($300) four people in each room

How many in your room?

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Markakis’ ill-advised bunt opens door for Red Sox comeback

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Markakis’ ill-advised bunt opens door for Red Sox comeback

Posted on 17 August 2012 by Luke Jones

I’ve never shied away from expressing my distaste for the sacrifice bunt, and the strategy cost the Orioles in their 6-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Thursday night.

Holding a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the second, the decision by right field Nick Markakis to lay one down with runners on first and second and no outs was questionable at best and turned disastrous when it resulted in a double play after Markakis didn’t run to first, thinking the ball was foul as it died at the plate. Shortstop J.J. Hardy then singled into right, but Omar Quintanilla was gunned down at the plate to end the inning.

Just like that, a once-promising inning was over without further damage.

The miscue gave Boston starter Clay Buchholz new life as he recovered to pitch eight strong innings to collect the victory.

Making Markakis’ decision to bunt even more perplexing was the fact that it came after Buchholz had walked Quintanilla on four pitches. Instead of taking a pitch or looking for a fastball to drive early in the count, Markakis may have been thinking too much in an effort to give the Orioles two runners in scoring position.

Based on his post-game comments, it was clear Buck Showalter had not called for the bunt, but the manager eloquently revealed whose call it was without painting his leadoff hitter in a negative light.

“I like the thought process; he just didn’t quite execute it,” Showalter said. “Nicky is a guy that’s always trying to do what’s best for the team, and I applaud him for the thought process. Maybe if he gets it down in a better spot, it might turn out really well.”

The decision to insert Markakis into the top spot in the order has worked beautifully for the Orioles after the production in the leadoff spot had been horrendous over the last 2 1/2 seasons with the absence of a healthy Brian Roberts. Entering Thursday night, Markakis was hitting .321 with five home runs and 14 runs batted in while posting a .371 on-base percentage since willingly accepting his new role on July 13.

However, the second-inning bunt appeared to be a rare instance in which the outfielder was trying to act too much like a leadoff hitter and not the run producer he’s more than capable of being when given an opportunity with men on base. Considering how much Buchholz was struggling, the time was right to play for a big inning and a knockout blow instead of settling for small ball.

You’re only guaranteed 27 outs over the course of a game, and I’m a big believer in not wasting them unless playing for a single run in the late stages of the game or it’s the rare instance of a low-scoring duel between two dynamic pitchers. Buchholz has been one of the best pitchers in baseball over the last month, but Baltimore starter Chris Tillman did not fall into that category after throwing 51 pitches through the first two innings.

And though Showalter was right about the bunt potentially turning out well if Markakis had laid it down in a better spot, it still doesn’t mean it was the right decision.

The failed bunt doesn’t change the fact that Tillman only got through 4 2/3 innings and reliever Luis Ayala gave up the three deciding runs in the sixth, but it certainly appeared to be the turning point in a game that appeared ripe for the picking in the early innings.

Instead of potentially busting the game wide open by trying to become the fourth straight batter to reach in the inning, Markakis was willing to give up an out — a second one was lost in the process — and the Orioles never really threatened Buchholz again after that second inning.

It was a rare misstep from a cerebral player, but the failed bunt factored heavily early on in the Orioles’ inability to complete a three-game sweep of Boston.

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