Tag Archive | "red sox"

Even after Showalter concedes, Orioles still win marathon at Fenway

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Even after Showalter concedes, Orioles still win marathon at Fenway

Posted on 06 May 2012 by Luke Jones

Trying to recount what we witnessed Sunday afternoon in the Orioles’ 9-6 win over the Red Sox in 17 innings won’t do it justice.

In all my years watching Orioles baseball, I haven’t seen anything like it.

But lost in the excitement of designated hitter Chris Davis’ two-inning relief stint that resulted in his first career win and the Orioles’ first three-game sweep at Fenway Park since 1994 is a dirty little secret.

Manager Buck Showalter essentially threw in the towel in the bottom of the 16th inning.

After Jim Johnson worked two innings to empty the bullpen, Showalter decided he wasn’t going to risk his closer any further or shake up his rotation by sending Monday starter Brian Matusz to the mound. While still hoping for a minor miracle, he was willing to sacrifice one game against the Red Sox with thoughts of a challenging four-game series with the Texas Rangers squarely in his mind.

His post-game comments about Davis’ lively arm and how he pitched in college — his fastball hit 91 mph and he struck out Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Adrian Gonzalez over his two innings — only explained the manager’s decision to choose Davis over any other available position players. Without any consideration for the coming days, going to Davis wasn’t Showalter’s best option to try to win Sunday’s game — plain and simple.

The decision would have brought the ire of fans had Davis not fared so well, but it’s hard to fault the manager for focusing on the big picture in not wanting to upset the karma of his league-leading pitching staff. There were 134 more regular-season games to think about after Sunday.

Yet, the red-hot Orioles still found a way to win the game thanks to a game-saving relay throw to the plate by J.J. Hardy in the 16th and Adam Jones’ three-run home run in the top of the 17th inning. The winning blast came against Boston outfielder Darnell McDonald, who enter the game after Bobby Valentine followed his peer’s line of thinking an inning later.

Despite the lowest expectations of any season in recent memory, the Orioles are playing outstanding baseball and even found a way to earn a win they had no business taking on Sunday. Squandering an early 5-0 lead, grounding into six double plays, and relying on a position player to throw the final two innings aren’t exactly winning ingredients drawn up in the off-season.

However, Showalter has his team believing it’s capable of competing and beating the best teams in the American League. Now sitting atop the AL East and owning the best record in the league, the Orioles just finished a 5-1 road trip against the Yankees and the Red Sox.

Their starting pitching has been good and the bullpen even better, owning the best earned run average in baseball after allowing one earned run in 23 innings of relief work against the Red Sox over the weekend. The offense even perked up during the trip, scoring 36 runs over the six games against New York and Boston.

Even if the cynic wonders if the 19-9 record represents the high-water mark of the season with the powerful Rangers coming to town for a four-game set against a taxed bullpen, there’s no disputing how impressive the Orioles have been through the season’s first 28 games. Baltimore is playing its best baseball since 2005, a team that spent much of the first half of the season in first place before collapsing down the stretch and finishing with a 74-88 record.

Are the Orioles capable of continuing their winning ways? History suggests they can’t, but no one predicted the Orioles to be in this position in early May after a challenging schedule over the first month of the season.

Inevitably, the Orioles will run into a tough stretch and how they respond to that adversity will give us a much better idea of what lies ahead for the totality of the 2012 season. They haven’t lost consecutive games since April 20-21, but the club’s ability to avoid the extended swoons of the past will determine whether they can play meaningful games in the final two months of the season.

Right now, they can do no wrong, even after Showalter was — begrudgingly — willing to wave the white flag on Sunday.

Call it Orioles magic, label it karma, or even suggest the law of averages will eventually return the baseball universe to its normal state if you must.

But there’s no disputing how enjoyable it’s been to watch for a fan base starving for a winner.

 

 

 

 

 

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Hunter to hill Sunday as Orioles eye sweep

Posted on 06 May 2012 by WNST Staff

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Orioles get offensive with Cook, Red Sox in 8-2 win; go for sweep Sunday

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Orioles get offensive with Cook, Red Sox in 8-2 win; go for sweep Sunday

Posted on 05 May 2012 by WNST Staff

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Hammel takes hill as Birds look to clinch another winning road trip

Posted on 05 May 2012 by WNST Staff

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Orioles visit Boston Friday for first time since ruining Red Sox season

Posted on 03 May 2012 by WNST Staff

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Orioles claim catcher Luis Exposito off waivers

Posted on 17 April 2012 by WNST Staff

PRESS RELEASE

The Orioles announced Tuesday that they have claimed catcher Luis Exposito on waivers from Boston.

Expositio, 25, is a career .268/.324/.420 hitter in seven minor league seasons in Boston’s farm system.  He was the Red Sox 31st round selection in the 2005 first-year player draft.

 

To make room for Exposito on the 40-man roster, infielder Josh Bell has been designated for assignment.  Bell, 25, batted .200/.221/.264 in 79 games with the Orioles in 2010 and 2011.  He was acquired by Baltimore on July 30, 2009 in exchange for left-handed pitcher George Sherrill.

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Orioles looking to reverse Rogers Centre horrors this weekend

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Orioles looking to reverse Rogers Centre horrors this weekend

Posted on 13 April 2012 by Luke Jones

The Orioles have spent plenty of time over the years pointing out the economic disparities in baseball that contribute to their inability to compete against the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox in the American League East.

However, no road destination in the AL East has been a bigger nightmare for the Orioles over the last three seasons than Rogers Centre in Toronto, where they will play a three-game series against the Blue Jays this weekend. Baltimore is an abysmal 4-23 in Canada since 2009 and has lost 26 of its last 31 games north of the border since June 2008. The horrific spell reached its low point last June before the Orioles finally snapped a 16-game losing streak in Toronto.

In contrast, the Orioles are 19-35 at Fenway Park, 15-39 in the Bronx, and 24-30 at Tropicana Field over the last three seasons.

With the Blue Jays off to a 4-2 start after an impressive Grapefruit League, the Orioles will have their hands full this weekend against the club that many view as an emerging threat in the division. And the man who’s led the big leagues in home runs over the last two seasons, Jose Bautista, hasn’t even started hitting yet (.174 and one home run).

The club’s futility against the Blue Jays in recent years is a prime example of why many fans grow weary from the likes of former executives such as Andy MacPhail and current executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette belaboring how the Yankees and Red Sox can spend more money than everyone else in the division.

That argument might hold some legitimacy if the Orioles were routinely pushing into the 85-to-90 win range on a semi-regular basis and falling short of the postseason. But when you’re not even competitive against the Blue Jays — who have finished in fourth place the last four seasons — it’s difficult to buy economics as the primary reason for the club’s failures.

Taking the lead

It’s been a rocky start for Nolan Reimold as the leadoff hitter, with the left fielder hitting just .238 and failing to register a walk in the first week of the season.

Hardly a conventional choice for the top spot in the order, Reimold is eighth among regulars in pitches seen per plate appearance (3.52) and has appeared to be overanxious at the plate in his five starts at the leadoff spot. Of course, we’re talking about a very small sample size from which to draw any conclusions, and it’s unlikely that manager Buck Showalter abandons the idea before at least a few more weeks of using Reimold in the top spot.

Many fans and media have criticized the idea of Reimold as the leadoff hitter, but the Orioles aren’t exactly dealing with a plethora of viable options to use in the top spot with second baseman Brian Roberts still sidelined.

J.J. Hardy served in the role for an extended time last season, but his .310 on-base percentage in 2011 and .320 career clip doesn’t exactly stand out as a no-brainer for the spot. Second baseman Robert Andino could eventually settle into the spot if he continues to develop as a regular, but Showalter appears content to leave Andino in the ninth spot to help turn the lineup over. Andino’s career on-base percentage is only .304 as he’s served in a limited fashion in his eight-year big league career.

Strictly looking at the numbers, right fielder Nick Markakis is the Orioles’ best option to hit in the leadoff spot, but it’s clear Showalter wants to keep him in a run-producing role. It’s easy to crunch the numbers and discuss the matter as if everything were in a vacuum, but any manager must always deal with egos and politics in the clubhouse when trying to fill out a lineup.

In a perfect world, Reimold would not be the leadoff hitter, but his underrated speed and .336 career on-base percentage are legitimate reasons to allow the experiment to continue for a few more weeks before making a switch.

Too much discussion is exhausted on the batting order — you simply want your best hitters getting as many plate appearances as possible — but it doesn’t take a sabermetrician to see more production is needed from the leadoff spot than what the Orioles have gotten in the first week.

What to do with Reynolds?

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Your Monday Reality Check-O What A Weekend

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Your Monday Reality Check-O What A Weekend

Posted on 09 April 2012 by Glenn Clark

I receive plenty of ridiculous messages via Facebook, Twitter, email, text, phone and here at WNST.net every week. I have a soft spot in my heart for those many messages and those who send them.

On Sunday, one of the more ridiculous messages I’ve seen was brought to my attention on Twitter.

bet ur pissed Os are 3-0 and ur boycott isnt working

I won’t say who sent me the note because I have no idea if they’re an actual listener/reader or just a troll who was sent my way during my brief spat with Baltimore Orioles OF Adam Jones last week. There’s no particular reason to allow this person any attention anyway.

The statement here is so ridiculous that I will need a minute to address it. I’ll start with the notion that I’d be “pissed” about the O’s starting the season with a sweep of the Minnesota Twins. The note implies one of two things-either I’m not a fan of the Birds at all or I’m a fan who for some reason doesn’t want to see them win.

I’ll start with the notion that I’m somehow “not an Orioles fan”. Here’s a picture from Chase Field in 2007 when the Orioles visited the Arizona Diamondbacks and I was working at The Fan 1060 (KDUS) in Phoenix…

I looked almost exactly like that all weekend. I could probably post about 1,000 more pictures here-but you can check my personal Facebook page for your own proof. As Nestor Aparicio knows all too well, somehow asking for a team to get better translates into “not a fan” in the minds of folks who likely also believe their favorite band WANTS to be known as a sellout. I’m a Baltimore Orioles fan, plain and simple.

The next thought would be that I for some reason don’t want the team to win. This is an all-too-often misconception related to WNST’s “Free The Birds” campaign that I have openly supported since its’ inception in 2006. I’d like to come back to this in a second.

The final part of the statement “your boycott isn’t working” reflects an absolute lack of knowledge about “Free The Birds” in general. To some, it is incomprehensible that I can both believe a current regime is incapable of creating a quality product but yet appreciate the product when it shows to be of quality.

Before heading in to see the Birds open the season against the Twinkies Friday at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, I wandered across Pratt Street to chat with fellow fans at Luna Del Sea. I had a great time hanging out, talking baseball and promoting FTB. Two listeners in particular approached me to say “thank you” for defending those who believe in our cry (and also the cries of groups like “Occupy Eutaw Street”) on my show last Thursday. I engaged in a great back and forth in which I reiterated a statement that I feel must be repeated.

“Free The Birds to me has only ever been about one thing-making the team better. It’s not anything personal about players, managers, general managers or even (wait for it) owners. If the Orioles can get better and baseball can become relevant in Charm City again with Peter Angelos as owner I will owe a debt of gratitude to the man. I just don’t really believe it will happen.”

Free The Birds isn’t a “boycott”. Free The Birds is ABSOLUTELY not a statement that we don’t support the Baltimore Orioles when they take the field. Those misconceptions will exist in the minds of some forever, but it won’t make them true. Free The Birds (for me) is simply a belief and statement that losing is NOT okay.

That concept alone is apparently not even enough for all to agree. That’s fine. Not every fan has to demand quality from the entity they support. The fact that Bon Jovi has managed to sell plenty of concert tickets over the course of the last decade is living proof of that.

The fact is, I want quality from the Baltimore Orioles and I don’t believe it will happen with Peter Angelos as owner. But my belief/expectation will never be cause for me to “hope” or “root” against such an occurrence. As many of you are aware, I don’t pick the Baltimore Ravens to win every football game they play. There hasn’t been one time in my life however that I wasn’t rooting for them to show me just how little I know.

I root against my own belief that the Orioles will fail to succeed under the control of Peter Angelos. I OPENLY root against it.

Like many years during what I’ve called “The Rock Bottom Era” here in Baltimore, the Birds got off to a hot start this weekend. Pitchers Jake Arrieta, Tommy Hunter and Jason Hammel combined to allow ONE run over 22 innings pitched. That number seems so impossible I’ve actually quadruple-checked it.

After an Opening Day sellout, another crowd of 30,000 plus took in Saturday night’s game (there was even a buzz about it at Power Plant Live as I was leaving the Alabama Shakes show at Rams Head Live). Sunday’s crowd looked all too “Baltimorean”, but the Easter holiday clearly had something to do with it.

(Oh and I didn’t even mention the awesomeness of the orange uniforms Saturday night. The last time I’ve wanted an article of clothing so badly was the first time Stone Cold Steve Austin donned a knee brace.)

It was an awesome weekend that left the city buzzing. It makes Monday a happier day to be in the state of Maryland than it would have been otherwise.

It doesn’t mean things have changed with the Orioles organization. It doesn’t mean the Birds will be 6-0 when the New York Yankees leave town. It absolutely doesn’t mean the AL East should be on notice. It means we’ve had way more fun as fans for three days than we would have otherwise.

Of course, maybe I’m wrong.

Maybe this weekend marked an official turnaround for the Orioles. Maybe the excitement of eliminating the Boston Red Sox last September truly carried over and this type of baseball will be a reality for the Birds all season.

Maybe the Orioles truly are better despite an offseason that made us believe they might be worse.

Let me repeat that. Maybe this weekend was a sign that the Orioles really are better. I don’t believe it, but I’d love to be wrong.

If they are, Free The Birds is a success. This is all we’ve ever wanted.

-G

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Galarraga Rocked in Orioles Split Squad Loss

Posted on 17 March 2012 by WNST Staff

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Chen Goes Five Innings For Birds in Split Squad Tie

Posted on 17 March 2012 by WNST Staff

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