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Baltimore Orioles: Buck Showalter will not be returning (updated, Duquette out as well)

The rumors about now former Baltimore Orioles’ manager Buck Showalter can now be put to rest. Multiple team media sources have confirmed that Showalter will not be returning to the organization. His contract expires at the end of this month.

Showalter apparently met multiple times with John and Lou Angelos, as recently as this morning. There was also apparently talk of him accepting another position within the organization. But it wasn’t to be, which is presumably his choice. It’s unclear whether or not Showalter intends to manage again, return to a media role, or what he intends to do. All that’s clear now is that he’s out and the O’s will have a new man in the dugout next season.

There is one point I want to make, however. Regardless of anything, Buck Showalter isn’t being fired. There are multiple outlets (including ESPN) reporting that he’s being fired. Perhaps we’re talking semantics, but he isn’t being fired. His contract is up, and both parties have completed their obligations to one another. The endgame is the same in that he’s no longer going to be the manager. But to say he’s being fired is 100% inaccurate. More as it comes.

Update, 6PM: According to THE ATHLETIC’s Ken Rosenthal, Dan Duquette is expected to not be retained after his contract is up, along with Showalter. Interesting turn of events for someone who was previously thought to be safe. More as it comes!

Baltimore Orioles: It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday

At the end of the day for Adam JonesBuck Showalter, the rest of the Baltimore Orioles, and the Orioles’ fans, it was the memories that counted. Certainly not of this forgettable season. But of the past ten or so years. Nobody does nostalgia like the Orioles, and that was on display once again in this afternoon’s series finale.

For the record, the O’s took the series finale with Houston and the season finale, 4-0. Lost in the shuffle of this game’s backstory is the fact that the three Oriole pitchers combined for a one-hitter. This stellar effort was spearheaded by starter Jimmy Yacabonis, who certainly made a strong case to have a shot at a starting rotation spot coming out of spring training next year. Yacabonis’ line: 4.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 1 K.

Again, the details are unimportant. But the Birds put up their four runs in the fourth inning. And that was all they needed. Trey Mancini‘s RBI-single gave them a 1-0 lead, and he would later score on Tim Beckham‘s RBI-double. Renato Nunez would add an RBI-double of his own, and he would later score on a wild pitch. And as they say, that’s your ballgame!

Well…not quite. Everyone knows the stakes, and they certainly had nothing to do with today’s game. Buck Showalter started the day by putting Adam Jones in center field for one last time, albeit just for the first inning before he went back to right. That meant that Jones would get to lead the team onto the field, potentially for the final time. However when the time came, Jones realized that his teammates had stayed back…

…Jones was the only person on the field, and his teammates stood behind him applauding from the dugout – along with the almost 25K people in attendance. It was a poignant moment; as I said, nobody does nostalgia like the Orioles. The Houston dugout stood and applauded along with the Orioles, as did…the umpires. THE UMPIRES were standing at home plate politely clapping for Adam Jones. Honestly, I can’t say I’ve ever seen that.

Jones was given a well-deserved standing ovation everytime he came to the plate. The stat book shows that he went 0-for-4, but who among us really cares? Jones on the the day (all quotes courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

I appreciate everybody’s support. I just show up to work every day, so I appreciate the people who appreciate it.

Eleven years here, a lot of games, a lot of blood, sweat and tears, so I greatly appreciate it from the fans’ standpoint. My teammates for sending me out there on an island all by myself. I didn’t know that was going to happen. Buck for letting me have an inning in center field, where I started at.

It’s been a cool weekend. Like I said, I’m very appreciative and humbled that people concur. Now the game’s over, the season’s over and the next chapter starts. Time to be a full-time father.

Speaking of Buck, he in theory was the day’s other “honoree.” Needless to say, it’s tough to honor managers the way that the crowd did with Adam Jones. And Buck’s not the type of guy who would want that. According to multiple reports, he met with an ownership representative late last night. It’s unclear what that means, but if his comments are to be believed he himself is unsure of his status for next year even now.

There was one “Buck moment.” He came out to argue a HBP, and a smattering of applause gained some momentum. When asked about it after the game, Showalter stayed true to form:

We won the game. They were happy we won. I’m not going to go there. Thanks. You know how much it means to me.

Needless to say, Buck Showalter will always mean something to the fans here in Baltimore. He managed the Orioles for longer than he managed any other franchise. He also managed Adam Jones for longer than he ever managed any other player. The connection will always be strong.

Buck sent Jones back out for the ninth inning in right field, but before the inning could begin he substituted for him, allowing the fans to pay homage to Jones. The game stopped for about five minutes, while Jones embraced each of his teammates and coaches, while the crowd gave him a final Standing O. Needless to say, it was a moment that nobody (player, coach, fan, or writer) who was there will ever forget.

Let the record state the as miserable as the 2018 season was for the Baltimore Orioles, they won on the last day. But again, today it was the memories that counted more than anything else. Adam Jones and Buck Showalter are forever a part of Baltimore. And Baltimore’s forever a part of them. Does that mean they’re irreplaceable? Absolutely not. They would never suggest that they are. But they, along with the memories of the past 8-10 years are a part of the Baltimore story.

And incidentally, it’s a beautiful story. I’d like to hope and believe that I tell my part of it as well as I can. But while time will go on, today was hard for a lot of people. It was hard in a beautiful kind of way. Yet while time goes on, let us not forget the closing strains of a well-known Boyz II Men song:

And I’ll take with me the memories, to be my sunshine after the rain. It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday.

Baltimore Orioles fall in nightcap, head to the end of the line

The Baltimore Orioles dropped the second game of yesterday’s doubleheader, once again behind a quality start from a starter. Yefry Ramirez wasn’t perfect, but he put the team in a spot to win. Ramirez’s line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 4 K.

Houston took the lead early on Styles’ solo homer in the first. The O’s would tie the game an inning later on Austin Wynns‘ RBI-single. Wynns was also thrown out trying to advance to second.

Ramirez loaded the bases in the fourth, and ended up walking in a run to give Houston a 2-1 lead. He would surrender another solo homer to McCann in the sixth, and the Birds trailed 3-1. The O’s would try to rally in the seventh with the bases loaded, but they could only muster one run. And that came on a wild pitch. And Houston made the Orioles pay for their neglect, with Marisnick’s two-run homer in the eighth to run the final to 5-2

Obviously that sets up a very reflective day today at Camden Yards, with both Buck Showalter and Adam Jones potentially putting on the orange and black for the final time. To be clear, Showalter hasn’t spoken to ownership about his status for next season. We’ve heard reports of his departure and so forth, but nothing official.

However after last night’s game, none other than Adam Jones talked about what could be next for the tenured manager (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

I just think ever since he came here on Aug. 3, 2010, the franchise just gained a little more accountability, gained an edge for some time and it’s the end of an era on his part, too. A great manager, a great tenure. I don’t know if he’s going to coach or manage again, but he’s got grandchildren. Hell, go golf. Relax and go sit on the golf course.

That didn’t sound like someone who thought Buck would be back. However it’s a valid point, and one I’ve brought up myself regarding Showalter. It’s unclear if he himself wants to continue doing this. He became a grandfather for the first time last year. That seems like it would be a game-changer for anyone. So he may be in a different mindset now as opposed to in 2010.

As difficult as this season’s been for the team, I always find myself feeling a bit strange when we get to this point. Win or lose, I’ve been peppering fans with game recaps and analysis since February in the Florida Grapefruit League – and will do so again starting in a few months! It’s been a long road. And one that was made longer by the strains of this season. It just feels strange to say that there’ll be no game to cover tomorrow. But them’s the facts.

The series with Houston and of course the season will culminate this afternoon at Camden Yards. Jimmy Yacabonis gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Houston’s Charlie Morton. Game time is set for just after 3 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Dylan Bundy closes 2018 with a quality start

Dylan Bundy closed a disappointing 2018 with the Baltimore Orioles in the same manner that he seemed to spend much of 2018. Bundy turned in a quality start, but yet the Birds managed to fall. Bundy didn’t get tagged with the loss mercifully, however he certainly pitched well enough for the team to have won. Bundy’s line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 7 K.

Bundy and Houston starter Verlander pitched to a scoreless tie through five innings. And that’s a testament to Dylan Bundy, to go toe-to-toe with one of the best pitchers in baseball over that period. However Bundy allowed a two-run homer to Springer in the sixth, giving Houston a 2-0 lead. Correa would tack on a solo homer, and the O’s trailed 3-0.

Bundy in essence threw two bad pitches. That’s the sad thing, and as I said it’s largely indicative of Bundy’s season (and that of other Orioles’ starters). There were numerous games this year in which the starting pitcher did exactly what he was supposed to do: put the team in a spot to win the game. In many cases pitching to a quality start. Only to lose or not get a decision. This season the margin for error was literally none. One bad pitch, and it seemed the Birds were doomed to failure.

The Orioles did battle back, however. DJ Stewart smacked a three-run homer in the last of the seventh which tied the game at three. Orioles fans should be excited at the prospect of Stewart in the lineup going into next year. He’s shown a lot of immediate promise both in the field and at the plate. He’s definitely someone to watch in Sarasota next year.

However Houston also showed why they’re the defending champions. Correa haunted them again in the eighth after a two-out walk, smacking an RBI-double. The Orioles threatened in the ninth, however Houston came up with a big double-play and then a strikeout to end the game. However it shouldn’t go unnoticed that these Orioles played Houston tough once again, taking them all the way to the end of the game.

Does that mean anything in the here and now? Not in the least. This season’s realistically been over since mid-May. However it does say something going into next season. Obviously it remains to be seen how the roster is made up and who’s leading the team in the dugout, but the spirits remain strong.

The series will continue in the blink of an eye with Game Two of this traditional doubleheader at Camden Yards. Yefry Ramirez gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Houston’s Dallas Keuchel. The game starts…let’s just say in short order!

Baltimore Orioles: David Hess finishes 2018 strong

Baltimore Orioles fans had to be encouraged by what they saw out of starter David Hess last night – albeit in a losing effort. Hess’ line: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 4 K. And that’s a great manner for Hess to close his rookie season, which of course began back in May when he started the first leg of a doubleheader.

These final outings are important, because one way or the other it’s the lasting memory of this season for all of these guys until they report to spring training next year. Let that sink in for a moment; the next time you’ll see these guys in action will be in the Florida Grapefruit League. And who knows what the roster and/or coaching staff looks like at that point.

The O’s took an early 1-0 lead on Adam Jones‘ RBI-double. That lead held up until the sixth inning, when Hess gave up a solo homer to Reddick. However Hess came back out and pitched an additional inning, ending up non-decisioned on the day. Houston would later take a 2-1 lead on Gonzalez’s RBI-single in the eighth, sending the O’s off to defeat yet again. They almost tied it in the ninth, however a diving catch in center field robbed Nunez of a game-tying hit. I’m not sure how many times I’ve said this, but Houston flat out doesn’t give up.

Manager Buck Showalter spoke after the game, and had many of the same impressions that I expressed here regarding David Hess (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

He was really good. That was fun to watch. It was good to see him end on a good note. I really wanted him to have a good outing. That was good to see. I told him that. I didn’t want to push it any more than that. Anytime you see a young pitcher go against a good team for a third time around the batting order and still be able to get outs, that’s good to see.

Don’t downplay the affect of having an outing like that be the final look a player gets this season. Indubitably Hess will spend a lot of time analyzing his various outings this year in the off season. But when he gets to the end of the line, this is what will cross his mind.

The O’s will have a long day today with a single-admission doubleheader against Houston at Camden Yards. Dylan Bundy gets the start in game on for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Houston’s Justin Verlander. Game time is set for just after 4 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Blowouts can go both ways

The Baltimore Orioles fell big in game one of yesterday’s doubleheader. But they made up for it in the nightcap. While their margin of victory wasn’t as large as Boston’s in the day game, it was still plenty, although starter Jimmy Yacabonis wasn’t able to go deep into the game. Yacabonis’ line: 3.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R (1 earned), 4 BB, 2 K.

The Orioles got an early RBI-triple out of Trey Mancini, and a sac fly-RBI out of Renato Nunez to take a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Boston would tack one back on in the bottom of the frame on a Villar error, but the good news was that the O’s had an early lead. However that only lasted until the fourth when Boston’s Lin smacked an RBI-triple to tie the game at two.

But it was the Captain, Adam Jones, who gave them the lead back. Playing perhaps for the final time in Orioles’ road gray, his fifth inning RBI-double gave the Birds a 3-2 lead. That is until Boston’s Swihart’s RBI-single tied it back up at three. It looked like it would be that type of game for the Orioles, who actually stood a chance in this game as opposed to in the first one. As it turned out, it wasn’t destined to be “that type of game.”

Mancini’s seventh inning two-RBI single gave the O’s the lead for good. Nunez would later add an RBI-single of his own, and the Birds held a semi-safe 6-3 lead. However for good measure, they’d tack four runs on in the ninth. Again, just for good measure. That brought the game into that “blowout” type of territory, similar to Boston’s win earlier in the day.

Buck Showalter spoke to the resiliency of the team after the game, in coming back after being blown away in the first game (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

It’s tough. It was an ugly game. I just wish we had scored nine more runs and beat them 19-3. It’s a crazy game. It’s a great club over there and come out and score a couple runs.

Adam had a big day. For a guy who doesn’t like DHing, he was pretty good tonight. I was kidding him, ‘You’re showcasing all the different things you can do – left field, right field, DH, run.’ It was a good win. That’s satisfying to see, especially, the young players respond like that.

Cedric (Mullins), here’s an example of a guy that’s struggled with the bat but really impacted, I thought, both games defensively, especially this one.

So for what it’s worth, the O’s won their final road game of the year. An incredibly small feat in a forgettable season for sure. But it does provide a cleaner finish to 81 games in gray than it otherwise would have been. So there’s that.

The O’s now head for home to close out the season against the Houston Astros. David Hess gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Houston’s Gerritt Cole. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Jace Peterson pitches in blowout loss

You have to have some respect for Jace Peterson of the Baltimore Orioles. He ended up pitching the eighth inning of this afternoon’s blowout 19-3 loss at the hands of Boston. Yes, a position player. What’s worse? It was game one of a doubleheader.

Baltimore area native Ryan Meisinger got the start, and fared about as well as every other Orioles’ pitcher in this game. Meisinger’s line: .1 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 0 K. Not exactly how any player wants to look, but especially when pitching for his hometown team.

Trey Mancini smacked a solo homer in the second inning for the Orioles. Renato Nunez followed later in the inning with a two-run shot of his own. And that was the Orioles’ scoring on the afternoon. On the flip side, anyone who could score in every which manner for Boston, did so. It’s been that kind of season for the Orioles.

Apparently Peterson had been in Buck’s ear for some time wanting to pitch in a game. And I feel like we’ve seen more position players pitching this year than ever before. Managers obviously don’t want to burn through relievers, and it’s especially understandable in a case like this. The game was out of control as it was, and it was the first leg of a twin bill.

The Orioles have obviously done this before, famously with Chris Davis at Fenway. However again, I feel as if we’ve seen this type of thing more often this year across the league than ever before. I understand the yearn by position players to get a shot at pitching, however it’s an artform that should only be tried by capable people.

Then again, perhaps this is one of those things similar to the new concept of an “opener” in games. This of course instead of a closer at the end. Maybe it’ll be something that more and more managers will attempt so as to save bullpen relievers. Who knows…I just feel there are a lot of things which appear up for debate as we go on in the story of baseball.

The series concludes this evening at Fenway Park (also the final road game of the 2018 season). The Orioles have not yet named a starter, but whomever he is he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Chris Sale. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Did Buck Showalter tip his hand?

The Baltimore Orioles were unable to get it together again in Boston last night the way that they did in New York on Sunday afternoon. Dylan Bundy couldn’t keep Boston bats at bay, and they took advantage of the Orioles’ starter’s short outing. Bundy’s line: 3.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 5 K.

Boston got back-to-back doubles in the second inning, culminated by Holt’s RBI-double to give them a 1-0 lead. Holt would later score on Vasquez’s RBI-single later in the inning. Even further into the inning brought Betts, an MVP candidate, to the plate, and his two-run homer gave Boston a 4-0 lead.

Buck Showalter said after the game that he felt Bundy never really got a fair shake on borderline pitches throughout his short outing (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

This is going to sound like excuses and everything and I’ve got it. A lot of people in our situation and rightfully so. There’s about six to seven pitches … The difference between a 3-1 count and a 2-2 count, I mean, 2-1, 1-2.

Dylan couldn’t catch a break with the borderline pitches. I’m going to be nice when I say borderline. It’s one of those things I’ve learned through the years, go back and take a look at yourself and you end up going, ‘I’d want that pitch,’ or, ‘I wouldn’t want that pitch.’ I thought it was kind of a little one-sided.

I felt that was a really interesting take from a manager. We’ve all heard the rumors about Showalter not returning next season. Coaches and players alike have to be careful when talking about umpires because the league will fine you at the drop of a dime if you’re overly critical. While Showalter did parse his words a bit there, it seemed like he went a bit further than he otherwise would have.

Boston would get RBI-singles by Benintendi and Bogaerts in the fourth to run the score to 6-0. But the Orioles’ bullpen also pitched a solid five innings to close the game, not allowing even a run. The O’s would also net two runs, with Tim Beckham scoring on a fifth inning wild pitch, and Adam Jones providing an eighth inning sac fly-RBI. But the Birds fell in game one at Fenway Park, 6-2.

Going back to Buck Showalter, I really was struck by that quote. Quite frankly I think he probably wanted to go much further than that at various times this season, but again had to keep quiet. Now maybe he’s letting it fly a bit more because he knows anything that comes down from the league can’t hurt him for the most part. That’s purely speculation on my part.

The series continues this evening, weather permitting (it’s supposed to rain all day in Boston). Jimmy Yacabonis gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s David Price. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles win finale vs. New York

Let the record show that the 2018 Baltimore Orioles won the season finale against New York – at Yankee Stadium. That’s small consolation in a season in which New York was only one of the teams that pushed the Orioles around, however you take small victories however you can get them. The only downside of this victory was that starter Alex Cobb left the game after throwing four pitches (and statistically having pitched no part of an inning) – after re-aggravating a blister on his throwing hand. I would assume that Cobb’s done for the year.

So enter Mike Wright Jr., who promptly gave up three runs. But the comeback started immediately for the Orioles, as Tim Beckham smacked a solo home run in the second inning. He replicated the homer in the sixth, this time with a runner on base – tying the game at three. Renato Nunez would follow suit in that sixth inning as well with a solo homer, and DJ Stewart would add a sac fly-RBI.

When the smoke cleared after that sixth inning the O’s had a 5-3 lead. Stewart would also tack on an insurance run in the eighth with an RBI-double. And that’s something that’s very important, as these young players are starting to see the light when it comes to insurance runs. Are they always necessary? No. But you never realize that they were necessary until after the other team’s re-taken the lead.

Alex Cobb’s suffered from that blister for the better part of a month-and-a-half, but to his credit he never wanted to totally shut down for the season. Even in a lost season. Cobb on the blister (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

It’s nothing that’s going to be career-threatening or anything like that. You feel fortunate about that. You obviously want to finish on a better note, deeper in the game, come back and be healthy for two starts, but we tried pushing it. We tried pushing it because we could. We knew that the risk wasn’t that great that we were taking, that it wasn’t going to cause any further injury.

Second baseman Breyvic Valera is also done for the season after breaking his left index finger trying to dive into home plate in the fifth inning yesterday. There’s no indication that Valera won’t be ready for spring training next year – whether he figures into the Orioles’ long term plans or not. But it certainly personifies how this season’s gone for the Orioles.

The Birds now head to Boston for the finale road series of the season. Dylan Bundy gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Nathan Eovaldi. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Another valiant losing effort

The Baltimore Orioles seem to be playing New York tough regardless of the circumstances or situation. And given that these two teams will meet 18 times next year, that bodes well for the Birds and their fans. While New York eventually won yesterday afternoon, they probably shouldn’t have had to resort to extra innings to beat a team with 44 wins.

David Hess got the start yesterday, and in essence he threw two bad pitches. Hicks and Voit smacked solo home runs in the second inning to give New York a 2-0 lead. Hess’ line: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 5 K. While he only pitched five innings yesterday, Hess said after the game that he believes that he and the team have improved (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

Overall, I think we’ve improved. You look at where we started when I first came up to where I am now, I think the past month or two, there’s been a lot of improvements and I think that shows with the numbers. But more than anything I think just the overall feel and the comfort that I’ve grown into more out there, I think that reflects and going forward we want to continue to grow in that and be as competitive as possible.

The O’s battled back an inning after those two homers. Cedric Mullins reached on a New York throwing error, allowing a run to score. DJ Stewart‘s fifth inning RBI-single would tie the game at two. And that’s where the score remained…for some time.

The game went to extra innings, and the O’s had a golden opportunity to take the lead in the tenth. The Birds put two runners in scoring position with nobody out. However they also managed to record three consecutive outs without netting a run, keeping the score tied at two.

And unfortunately for the O’s, teams have made a habit of getting fat on what they’ve left behind this season. Especially a good team like New York. One inning later in the eleventh, Hicks’ RBI-double gave New York a walk off 3-2 win in extra innings.

You obviously want to win the game, however the fact is that many of these young players are scrappy guys. They played New York tough, and that bodes well for the Orioles’ future. And that’s what we’ve really been talking about since about May – the future.

The O’s will try to salvage one game in this afternoon’s series finale at Yankee Stadium. Alex Cobb gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s J.A. Happ. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

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