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Ten talking points for Orioles-Tigers ALDS matchup

Posted on 30 September 2014 by Luke Jones

As the Orioles prepare to play the Detroit Tigers for the first time ever in the postseason, here are 10 talking points to break down their meeting in the American League Division Series beginning Thursday night:

1. The outcome of the regular-season series between these clubs is irrelevant.

It’s generally unwise to make too much out of a six-game sample anyway, but the Tigers’ 5-1 mark against the Orioles during the regular season included taking two of three in Detroit the first weekend of April and a three-game sweep at Camden Yards in mid-May. Even if Detroit easily disposes of Baltimore and sweeps the Division Series, what happened between these clubs more than four months ago isn’t a good predictor when you acknowledge how much change each roster has undergone since then.

2. The Detroit rotation has the better pedigree, but the Orioles posted a superior starter ERA this season.

Yes, the Tigers have the bigger names and former Cy Young Award winners in David Price, Max Scherzer, and Justin Verlander, but the Orioles’ starting pitching ERA of 3.61 ranked fifth in the AL while Detroit’s 3.89 starter mark was only 10th. Consistency has been key for Baltimore as all four projected starters in the Division Series carry an ERA of 3.65 or better. Meanwhile, Verlander, the 2011 Cy Young Award winner and Most Valuable Player in the AL, has been the weak link for Detroit with a 4.54 ERA this season. On paper, the Tigers have the edge in Games 1 and 3 with Scherzer and Price scheduled to pitch, but Games 2 and 4 will be much more interesting with Verlander struggling all year and Rick Porcello posting a 6.20 ERA in five September starts after throwing a career-high 204 2/3 innings this season.

3. Baltimore led the majors in home runs, but Detroit scored 52 more runs over the course of the year.

The Orioles’ offensive identity is clear as they’re very dependent on the home run and ranked 11th in the AL in on-base percentage and 13th in walks, which aren’t promising numbers when you’d prefer not see Detroit starters pitching deep into games. The Tigers also allowed the second-fewest number of homers in the AL this season. In contrast, the Detroit offense was second in the majors in runs scored, first in batting average, and second in on-base percentage. For an Orioles staff that’s been very effective without striking out many hitters (10th in the AL), location is always important, especially against a lineup as consistent as the Tigers. Anything can happen in a short five-game series, but the Orioles would benefit from the ball carrying at both Camden Yards and Comerica Park.

4. The Orioles have a clear advantage in the late innings.

The Orioles ranked third in the AL in bullpen ERA (3.10) while Detroit ranked 13th with a 4.29 ERA and saw its bullpen nearly derail the season on a number of occasions. Baltimore’s late-inning trio of lefty Andrew Miller, submariner Darren O’Day, and closer Zach Britton is as good as any you’ll find in the postseason while the Tigers have held on tight with 39-year-old closer Joe Nathan, who sports a 4.81 ERA and has blown seven saves in his first year with Detroit. The X factors that could make the bullpen better for Detroit are usual-starter Anibal Sanchez — who is back from injury — and Joakim Soria, who has closer experience and has posted a 1.35 ERA since returning from the disabled list earlier this month. But if manager Brad Ausmus blindly trusts Nathan and even setup man Joba Chamberlain, he’s really rolling the dice.

5. The Tigers’ speed on the bases will be an issue for Orioles catchers.

Unlike the station-to-station Orioles who stole fewer bases (44) than anyone in baseball, Detroit isn’t afraid to run and ranked fourth in the AL with 106 steals. However, 36 of those came from outfielder Rajai Davis, who is currently nursing a groin injury that could limit him in the Division Series. The Tigers’ speed will force manager Buck Showalter to take pause when choosing between Caleb Joseph and Nick Hundley behind the plate. Joseph has thrown out 40 percent of runners attempting to steal this season while Hundley has gunned down only 19 percent. The problem is Joseph is currently mired in an 0-for-30 slump and has been more erratic behind the plate down the stretch, which could indicate late-season fatigue.

6. The Baltimore defense is substantially better than Detroit’s.

Even without two Gold Glove winners for much of the season, the Orioles have still played defense at an extremely high level, committing the third-fewest number of errors in the AL and ranking third in defensive efficiency, according to BaseballReference.com. Meanwhile, the Tigers committed 14 more errors than Baltimore and ranked next to last in the AL in defensive efficiency. The Tigers also had five players — Davis, first baseman Miguel Cabrera, regular designated hitter Victor Martinez, outfielder Torii Hunter, and third baseman Nick Castellanos — with a defensive WAR (wins above replacement) of -1.0 or worse while Baltimore didn’t have a single player with a defensive WAR worse than -0.9, per BaseballReference.com.

7. Camden Yards was a more pitcher-friendly venue than Comerica Park this season.

Historically, Oriole Park at Camden Yards as been a pitcher’s nightmare while Comerica has played pretty evenly to pitchers and hitters alike, but 2014 has painted a much difference picture in Baltimore as Camden Yards has ranked 22nd in runs and 20th in home runs using ESPN’s park factors. Run scoring and home runs hit have been down at Camden Yards this season, which might be explained in part by the mild temperatures experienced in the area this summer compared to most years in which the ball tends to fly out in the summer months. Orioles pitchers allowed fewer homers and posted a lower ERA at Camden Yards than they did on the road while it wasn’t until the final month or so that Baltimore hitters finally started feasting at their home park, finishing the season with three more homers at home than on the road. Will this make a dramatic impact on the ALDS? Probably not with the cooler temperatures of October anyway, but it’s something to remember as analysts constantly mention the comfy dimensions of Camden Yards this October.

8. Defense at third base is an issue for both clubs.

The Orioles’ concerns at third base have been discussed extensively recently with Ryan Flaherty the most likely to handle the bulk of the work at the position during the ALDS, but Detroit has dealt with its own issues at the hot corner with Castellanos, who posted a respectable .700 on-base plus slugging percentage as a 22-year-old rookie but is a much better fit in the outfield. His 15 errors don’t appear to be a major concern on the surface, but fielding metrics show very limited range and his defensive WAR of -2.7 is the worst mark on the Tigers. As a result, Castellanos is frequently replaced by utility infielder Don Kelly in the late innings. While Castellanos has more potential with the bat than any of the Orioles’ current options at third base, it will be interesting to see if defense at the hot corner has a significant impact for either club at some point during the series.

9. It will be intriguing watching a rookie manager match wits with a seasoned skipper.

Always respected for his baseball mind as a longtime major league catcher, Ausmus will be making his postseason managerial debut against Buck Showalter, who is making his fourth playoff appearance and second with the Orioles and carries 16 years of major-league experience as a manager. With Detroit’s bullpen being so inconsistent, how far Ausmus is willing to push his starter on any given night will be a factor to watch. In contrast, Showalter has so many trustworthy bullpen pieces that he won’t hesitate to call to the bullpen sooner rather than later in a tight game. As mentioned before, third base has likely provided some restless nights for Showalter, but there isn’t too much mystery with the lineup beyond that. How the inexperienced Ausmus manages his pitching staff will be one of the big stories of the series.

10. Beware of bad blood.

While the Orioles’ 1-5 record against Detroit in April and May might not mean much, there was some bad blood between these clubs earlier in the season that’s worth keeping in the back of your mind. On May 12, Bud Norris was pitching a terrific game into the eighth before surrendering a two-run homer to Ian Kinsler to give the Tigers a 4-1 lead. Norris responded by plunking the next hitter Hunter in the ribs, which prompted the pitcher’s ejection as both benches and bullpens emptied before order was restored. Verlander retaliated two days later by throwing a fastball behind slugger Nelson Cruz, which brought a warning to both sides. You certainly hope that cooler heads prevail with those events taking place so long ago and the high stakes of October now in front of both clubs, but you never know for sure.

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The Peter Principles (Ch. 1): So, just how did Angelos become ‘King’ of Baltimore baseball?

Posted on 19 March 2014 by Nestor Aparicio

(Author note: This is Chapter 1 of future book “The Peter Principles” that I was working to finish in March 2014 when my wife was diagnosed with leukemia. I have released the first three chapters of the book, which chronicles the history of Peter G. Angelos and his ownership of the Baltimore Orioles. I think you’ll find much of this already-reported information to be illuminating.)

Chapter 2 is available here.

Chapter 3 is available here.

Chapter 12 is available here.

 

 

IT WAS HOT AS HADES in that lower Manhattan federal courtroom. Jam-packed with bidders, curiosity seekers and baseball fans, the Baltimore Orioles franchise was up for grabs on August 2, 1993, and the bidding was as steamy as the air in the room once the price began to rapidly accelerate into the stratosphere.

The fact that there was any bidding at all was somewhat surprising to Peter G. Angelos, a Baltimore attorney who had begun a power play five months earlier to purchase the Major League Baseball franchise that was being sold off via an auction nearly 200 miles away from its home on the Chesapeake Bay. In the hours leading up to the auction, Angelos managed to turn his sole competitor from a previous suspended bid for the team during June into a partner. William DeWitt Jr., a Cincinnati native whose father once owned the St. Louis Browns in the 1940s and a minority investor in the Texas Rangers, joined Angelos’ celebrity-led local group from Maryland just hours before the bidding was to begin in the sweltering Custom House. DeWitt was promised a role in the operations and management of the club.

It was an amazing coup for Angelos to pull DeWitt from being a worthy, legitimate competitor into a teammate that morning, after convincing him that he’d be involved and an influential part of the eventual winning group. It was shocking that DeWitt had pulled out because several times over the previous eight months, he was convinced that he was already the winning bidder and new owner of the Orioles.

In February 1993, after six months of lengthy, arduous negotiations on a fair price, DeWitt had entered into a deal with Orioles majority owner Eli Jacobs to buy the team for $141.3 million. Jacobs, who was in his final days of semi-liquidity and quietly on the verge of bankruptcy, didn’t have the legal authority to close the deal with DeWitt once the banks seized his assets in March. Instead, the Orioles wound up at auction five months later and suddenly Angelos – with DeWitt now shockingly a member of his ownership team – believed he would emerge victorious without breaking a sweat in the summer heat of The Big Apple.

But that afternoon, after entering the courtroom in what he believed would be a rubber-stamped win, instead he found himself embroiled in a bidding war with a stranger he never strongly considered to being a worthy foil in the fray.

Jeffrey Loria, a New York art dealer and Triple-A baseball team owner, wanted badly to be a Major League Baseball owner. Baltimore native and former NFL player Jean Fugett represented a group led by TLC Beatrice, which featured a rare minority bid for an MLB franchise on that day in New York. One bidder, Doug Jemal of Nobody Beats The Wiz electronics stores, had early interest but bowed out before the steamy auction.

That August day, the bidding began at $151.25 million, which included a “stalking fee” of $1.7 million which was originally awarded to DeWitt’s team because of his vast due diligence and legal work done months earlier when he thought he had won a deal to secure the Orioles in the spring.

George Stamas, who represented Angelos’ group during the bidding process, opened the bidding at $153 million, which was seen as a good faith gesture from the combined bid with DeWitt, which could’ve been perceived as artificially deflating the sale price by judge Cornelius Blackshear. Loria, who was a stranger to the Angelos group, immediately raised it by $100,000. Stamas barked out, “One million more – $154.1!”

And for the next 30 minutes, the bids drew north from the $150 millions into the $160s. With every bid, Loria would raise by $100,000. Stamas, on behalf of Angelos, raised it by $1 million at a time. After 13 rounds of back and forth money, Angelos had the leading bid $170 million. Fugett, who had been completely silent during the auction, asked the judge for a recess.

The request was granted and the judge headed to his chambers.

And, suddenly, it got even hotter in a blazing courtroom on a sweltering day in The Big

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Orioles to hold ballgirl, ballboy tryouts March 1

Posted on 14 January 2014 by WNST Staff

Orioles to hold tryouts for Ballgirls and Ballboys on Saturday, March 1

The Orioles have announced they will conduct an open tryout to find ballgirls and ballboys for the 2014 season – the team’s 60th anniversary season – at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Saturday, March 1. The judges will include members of the Orioles’ front office, former players and local media personalities.

Outgoing and athletic men and women ages 18 and older who are interested in serving as ballboys and ballgirls for the Orioles during the upcoming 2014 season are invited to try out for a position at Oriole Park beginning at noon on March 1.

Those interested should dress casually, bring their own gloves, and use the Home Plate Plaza entrance to Oriole Park on the southwest corner of the ballpark. Resumes are also recommended. Complimentary parking will be available in Lot A.

In addition to being able to handle a glove and field ground balls, interested candidates should be personable, customer-service oriented and available to work the entire 2014 season.

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WNST’s Aparicio to take part in football roundtable Sept. 17 at Sports Legends

Posted on 21 August 2013 by WNST Staff

SPORTS LEGENDS MUSEUM AT CAMDEN YARDS TO HOST FOOTBALL ROUNDTABLE WITH LOCAL MEDIA ON SEPTEMBER 17th

Baltimore Media Members to Provide Insight on 2013 Baltimore Ravens Season

Baltimore, Md. – Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards today announced that it will host a football roundtable discussion on Tuesday, September 17 from Noon to 1:30 p.m. with members of the local sports media.

The panel of Baltimore media experts will consist of  Pete Gilbert (WBAL-TV, WBAL Radio, 98 Rock & Ravens Broadcast Team); Bruce Cunningham (Fox 45 Sports Director & Public Address Announcer at  M&T Bank Stadium); Nestor Aparicio (WNST Founder &  Author of Purple Reign and Purple Reign 2); and Jeff Zrebiec (The Baltimore Sun). The panelists will discuss the Ravens off-season moves, provide their insight & predictions for the 2013 season and take questions from members of the audience.

“There is an excitement building as the Ravens prepare to kickoff their 2013 campaign, especially after winning the Super Bowl last season ,” said Mike Gibbons, executive director of the Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation.  “Baltimoreans  love talking football, so we thought this roundtable would be a great opportunity for the media who cover the team and fans to come together to share their thoughts on the Ravens initial start to the season and the long-term outlook for 2013.”

Tickets for the program are $25.00 and include lunch, the roundtable program and admission to the galleries at Sports Legends Museum.  Attendees will have the opportunity to see the latest additions to the Ravens Gallery featuring new artifacts from the  Super Bowl XLVII Championship season. Artifacts include Ravens Kicker Justin Tucker’s cleats worn during Super Bowl XLVII; Ravens Defensive End Arthur Jones’ jersey (#97) worn during the Wild Card game against the Indianapolis Colts; a reproduction Super Bowl XLVII ring that is an exact replica of the one presented to Joe Flacco with his name and “MVP” engraved on the side; and more.

To order tickets, please contact Ashley Serano at 410-727-1539 x3013 or AshleyS@BabeRuthMuseum.org.

About The Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation
The Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and celebrating the legacy of Maryland’s rich sports heritage.  The Foundation owns and operates both Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards and the Babe Ruth Birthplace.  Located adjacent to Oriole Park, Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards opened in May 2005 and consists of 22,000 square feet of artifacts and interactive exhibits profiling Maryland’s sports history.  Among the items featured in the Museum’s Ravens’ Gallery are the Super Bowl jerseys of Jonathan Ogden and Matt Stover, as well as the football from the team’s first home game.

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Terps take day off Sunday to root on Orioles

Posted on 19 August 2013 by WNST Staff

A normal routine of Sunday afternoon meetings was the plan for the Maryland football team. But head coach Randy Edsall and the coaching staff decided the squad needed a break for the predictability of preseason camp and surprised the Terps with a trip north up I-95 to Camden Yards at Oriole Park to watch the Colorado Rockies take on the Baltimore Orioles.

The change of plans was announced in a Sunday morning team meeting and served as a welcome change of pace for the Terps  as they begin their final week of preseason camp on Monday in preparation for the season opener against Florida International on Aug. 31 at 12:30 p.m. at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium.

Prior to the start of the game, Stefon Diggs took to the mound to throw out the first pitch.

The Terps will be back on the practice field tomorrow for a two-a-day and are scheduled to break camp on Thursday.

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Showalter advises Rex Ryan to focus on trying to beat Ravens this season

Posted on 19 April 2013 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — It’s safe to say Buck Showalter won’t be sending New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan any Orioles tickets for his comments criticizing the club for failing to move their Sept. 5 game to accommodate the Ravens in the NFL’s season-opening game.

The former Ravens defensive coordinator expressed his dissatisfaction with the Super Bowl XLVII champions’ inability to open the season at home as has become the custom over the last decade. Ryan went as far as suggesting that the Orioles should have just played in Chicago instead of hosting the White Sox that night, citing that it’s not a big deal considering major league teams play 81 home games.

While Ryan’s ties to Baltimore made it acceptable for him to share his disappointment over the situation, Showalter took exception to the New York coach’s suggestion that the Orioles simply give up a home game. To be clear, the Orioles manager was asked to respond to Ryan’s comments prior to the start of the club’s three-game series with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday, but it seemed more than coincidental that Showalter knew the exact date of the Jets’ visit to Baltimore this coming season.

“I’d be a little more concerned about Nov. 24 when the Jets come here and trying to figure out a way to beat the Ravens, wouldn’t you?” said Showalter, who put the dates of the Ravens home games in his personal planner in hopes of attending one or two like he did last season. “I think that would be a little bit more of a challenge.

“I try to stay out of things that I don’t know about, like I don’t know about the NFL scheduling and the NFL challenges. That would be my advice. I would stay in what is my area of supposed expertise.”

Considering Ryan’s on shaky ground in New York with the Jets having missed the postseason in each of the last two years, many will find humor in Showalter’s use of the word “supposed” — intentional or not — with many wondering if the fifth-year coach will survive the 2013 season.

In the the Thursday conference call, Ryan expressed his continued fondness for Baltimore where he spent 10 years as a defensive line coach and defensive coordinator, but this was a subject he had no business broaching in such confrontational detail and with the complications being above his pay grade.

“Well, who really cares, you’ve got 81 at home, maybe you could have done the right thing and given one up and then played 82 on the road and then 80 at home,” Ryan said. “I really don’t think people are going to care about that game.

“Certainly, I can understand, if baseball only had a 16-game schedule you might understand it. But when they have 162 games, you might just [have] common courtesy and say, you know what, maybe I’ll play this one on the road or whatever.”

The conflict over the Sept. 5 date sparked much debate, polarizing many fans who elected to side with either the Orioles or the Ravens, but Ryan’s suggestion of simply giving up a home game is absurd for a club holding playoff aspirations after their first postseason appearance in 15 years last season.

Needless to say, it will be intriguing to see if Showalter circles the Jets’ trip to M&T Bank Stadium as one of the games he attends this fall. There certainly won’t be any doubt which team he’ll be rooting for.

To hear Showalter’s response to Ryan’s criticism, click HERE.

 

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Orioles, Ravens hope to accommodate smokers after Stadium Authority ban

Posted on 25 February 2013 by WNST Staff

The Maryland Stadium Authority is implementing a ban on smoking at the Camden Yards Sports Complex, which includes both Oriole Park at Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium. Effective March 4, 2013, the ban will apply to all games and events held within the stadium structures at Camden Yards.

The ban prohibits the “the burning of a lighted cigarette, cigar, pipe, or any other matter or substance that contains tobacco” within the stadiums–whether such spaces are covered or uncovered, walled or exposed, or open or closed to public access. The ban will also prohibit smoking within 25 feet of any entry, outdoor air intake, or operable window of the stadium structures.

Roy Sommerhof, Vice President of Stadium Operations for the Ravens, said the team will make accommodations for those attending football games and other special events held at M&T Bank Stadium who wish to smoke.
The Orioles will announce a similar policy to accommodate smokers prior to Opening Day.

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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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Sabathia simply better than Orioles’ top stars in Game 1 defeat

Posted on 08 October 2012 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — There’s no magical explanation for why the New York Yankees bested the Orioles in a 7-2 final to take Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Sunday night.

It wasn’t the wrong tactical decision by manager Buck Showalter or bad luck that cost the Orioles against their AL East rival.

The Yankees’ future Hall of Fame starting pitcher CC Sabathia was simply better than anything the Orioles had to offer in return. The burly left-hander delivered when it mattered most while Baltimore’s All-Star trio of Jim Johnson, Adam Jones, and Matt Wieters couldn’t get the job done in the game’s final two innings.

Johnson surrendered a leadoff home run to Yankees catcher Russell Martin on a 2-0 fastball up in the strike zone and gave up five runs (four earned) to turn a nail-biter into a laugher by the time the Orioles collected the final out in the top of the ninth inning.

“I made a mistake, obviously to Martin, and a couple of other mistakes over the middle of the plate and we paid for it,” Johnson said. “It’s unfortunate after the effort we got out of everybody else that I didn’t hold my end of the bargain.”

But Johnson wasn’t alone as the Orioles had their chances to surge ahead against Sabathia, but the veteran southpaw made big pitches when he needed them late in the game. Baltimore tried to break a 2-2 tie by getting a runner in scoring position in the fifth, sixth, and eighth innings, but Sabathia was at his best when the Orioles threatened to retake the lead.

Collecting his eighth career win in the postseason, Sabathia held the Orioles to two earned runs over 8 2/3 innings, striking out seven and stranding the potential go-ahead run in scoring position after a leadoff double by J.J. Hardy in the eighth inning.

Jones struck out swinging on a 2-2 cutter for the first out before Wieters fouled out to first baseman Mark Teixeira as the All-Star hitters could not give the Orioles the lead. First baseman Mark Reynolds grounded to short to end the threat before the Yankees’ bats surged ahead in the final inning.

“We had our chances,” Showalter said. “We had some some chances there, some good people up that had solid years for us, and it’s more a tribute to [Sabathia] than any detraction from our guys.”

Despite some exercising 20-20 hindsight after the series-opening loss, there was no reason to preserve Johnson for extra innings because the possibility of a save situation didn’t exist playing extra frames at Camden Yards. Even with his ninth-inning struggles in Arlington, you don’t shy away from your best reliever who allowed just one run over his last 26 innings and gave up only three home runs all year over 68 2/3 innings of work in the regular season.

You can count on one hand the number of times Johnson didn’t come through for the Orioles this season and still have fingers remaining. The latest occurrence just happened to come at the wrong time for his club.

Others — including Hall of Fame shortstop and TBS analyst Cal Ripken — called for Jones to bunt in the eighth inning with Hardy standing on second with nobody out. While it wouldn’t have been a bad play had Showalter called for his center fielder to lay one down, you can understand the decision to allow his best hitter to swing away with a runner already in scoring position and Wieters and Reynolds not exactly sporting stellar career numbers against Sabathia. There’s also the argument Jones had various ways to move the runner to third even if he couldn’t collect a hit.

Jones hadn’t laid down a sacrifice bunt all season and entered the night with a .341 average in 41 career at-bats against the Yankees left-hander. Even if he does advance Hardy to third, critics are then questioning the Baltimore manager for taking the bat out of the hands of the team’s most valuable hitter if Wieters and Reynolds don’t come through. A Jones bunt may have also led Yankees manager Joe Girardi to walk Wieters intentionally, leading to the strikeout-prone Reynolds and the rookie Manny Machado being the ones needing to cash in. It’s not exactly a successful trip through the order with both your No. 3 and 4 hitters having the bat taken out of their hands.

Going to Johnson in a tie game in the ninth and allowing Jones to swing away in the eighth weren’t the wrong moves. You don’t suddenly change who you are and what brought you here just because you’re playing in the postseason.

The Orioles’ top guys simply didn’t come through while Sabathia did.

When the chips were down late in the game, the Yankees pitcher was simply better than the best on which the Orioles have counted all season long.

The home loss makes Monday’s Game 2 that much more critical for the Orioles to win, with rookie left-hander Wei-Yin Chen going to the mound against the 40-year-old Andy Pettitte. There’s plenty of baseball to play in the five-game series, but the Orioles’ failure to come through on Sunday night made their road to the American League Championship Series that much more difficult.

Now faced with the task of winning three of their next four possible games against the Yankees — and the final three being played in the Bronx — to take the series, the Orioles backs are once again against the wall. And in case you’d forgotten, they’re used to it.

In fact, they embrace it.

“That is why we play five games,” Johnson said. “Every time we take the field we are going to compete. We are going to play hard. Obviously, it’s an unfortunate way to lose this first game, especially at home. So like I said, we’ve battled all year. Why would we make it easy now?”

 

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Steve Johnson’s health factors into decision to keep him off roster

Posted on 07 October 2012 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Manager Buck Showalter decided to sleep on it before finalizing his 25-man roster for the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees.

Even then, he admitted it was a very difficult process to leave several good arms off the roster, including pitchers Steve Johnson, Jake Arrieta, and Zach Britton.

“It’s hard to handicap what’s more particularly [difficult] — this guy or that guy — they’re all hard,” Showalter said. “We put a lot of thought with keeping mind you have to be cautious if you have an issue physically with somebody.”

The decision to leave the local product Johnson off the roster was especially difficult with his contributions down the stretch as a starter filling in for Game 1 starter Jason Hammel. Making four starts and appearing in 12 games this season, Johnson went 4-0 with a 2.11 earned run average in 38 1/3 innings.

However, the rookie injured his left knee after landing awkwardly from taking a comebacker hit by Boston’s Dustin Pedroia on Sept. 29. Johnson deemed himself ready to go this week and would have likely started a potential division tiebreaker against the Yankees on Thursday had the Orioles finished in a tie at the end of the regular season, but some uncertainty remained in the mind of Showalter.

“As good as we think Steve could feel, there’s some unknown there with the knee,” Showalter said. “But, we’re going to keep him here. We’re going to send probably a couple guys down to Sarasota to the instructional league to be in that camp there, but we’ll decide that after the game. Every one of those guys, as I told them today, has to have the mindset that they’re playing tomorrow, because they could be.”

Johnson will remain on call should there be a health issue with Hammel or another pitcher on the 25-man roster while a few others such as Britton and outfielder Xavier Avery will be sent to Sarasota to compete in the instructional league to stay sharp in case they’re needed later in the postseason.

For Sunday night’s game, Miguel Gonzalez and Chris Tillman will be available out of the bullpen if necessary. Gonzalez is tentatively slated to start Game 3 at Yankee Stadium.

The Orioles elected to keep Tommy Hunter on the 25-man roster as a power right-handed arm and potential long reliever. He has pitched effectively in relief, posting a 0.71 ERA out of the bullpen in 12 2/3 innings covering 10 September appearances.

“If we presented good options as a starter, we felt like Tommy could be a real contributor as a reliever, too,” Showalter said. “He’s certainly done that since he’s pitched out of the pen. He can give us some length out of there if we need it. The off day plays into it a lot.”

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