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Five baseball books for fun summer reading

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Five baseball books for fun summer reading

While you’re contemplating the unlikely, the Orioles acquiring Jay Bruce, Johnny Cueto, Carlos Gomez or Justin Upton over the next 11 days, it’s time for some relaxation.

I spent the All-Star break and a few extra days at the beach, and spent some time reading good baseball books. This year is one of the better in recent years for good ones, and if you have any vacation time coming up, here are five you should take a look at.

1) The Grind by Barry Svrluga (Blue Rider Press).

Svrluga was one of the original beat writers, along with my friend and colleague Mark Zuckerman, when the Washington Nationals came to town.

Svrluga’s charming book follows different members of the Nationals organization, on field and off, through parts of their season.

You don’t have to be a Nats fan to identify with Chelsey Desmond, the wife of shortstop Ian Desmond. She keeps the house together when her husband is playing, and adjusts their small children’s sleep patterns so that they can see their father as much as possible during the season.

Another excellent chapter is on traveling secretary Rob McDonald, who wants players to board chartered planes and trains before the staff does.

2) Billy Martin, Baseball’s Flawed Genius by Bill Pennington (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Orioles fans will enjoy the chapter on Buck Showalter’s relationship with Martin. The Yankees manager mentored Showalter and one year had young Buck as a coach during spring training.

Showalter tipped Martin off to an opposing pitcher who had a jittery pickoff move, and that tip allowed the Yankees to win a game.

Martin invited Showalter to join the other coaches for an evening out. Fortunately for Showalter, another coach advised him to stop off and eat a sandwich before “dinner.”

The party drank for some time, and Showalter never remembered if they actually ordered dinner. As the designated driver, it was his duty to keep sober, and he did, and thanks to the club sandwich, he didn’t die of hunger.

3) The Best Team Money Can Buy by Molly Knight (Simon and Schuster)

Knight, a longtime writer for ESPN The Magazine, chronicles the Los Angeles Dodgers’ high profile acquisitions and lucrative contracts.

The best parts of the book detail the explosive relationship Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig had with his teammates and how he was pursued by a drug cartel.

Orioles fans, who as Buck Showalter would say, don’t live in that world, can only compare and contrast the world of the Dodgers with that of their own team.

Don Mattingly, whose play as a minor leaguer convinced Showalter he would never play for the Yankees, is the manager of the Dodgers, and his struggles with this eccentric bunch are examined, too.

4) Pedro by Pedro Martinez and Michael Silverman (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Silverman, the talented Boston Herald writer who covers the Red Sox, did a great job putting Martinez’s words on paper.

On Sunday, Martinez becomes the second Domincan pitcher to enter the Hall of Fame (Juan Marichal was the first). In a TBS conference call earlier this month, Martinez predicted that the ceremony in Cooperstown wouldn’t resemble your ordinary ones.

Martinez is hoping for thousands of fans from the Dominican Republic to make the journey and for them to make a lot of noise.

Fans will remember Martinez being asked to stay in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS by Grady Little. The Red Sox lost the game, and Little was quickly fired.

A few days later, Little was interviewed for the Orioles managerial job, the one that went to Lee Mazzilli. The Orioles media was instructed not to ask Little about Game 7.

Martinez will tell you everything you wanted to know here.

5) Split Season 1981 by Jeff Katz (St. Martins Press)

How many mayors write books about baseball? If you’re the mayor of Cooperstown and a baseball maven, you do.

Katz details the strange 1981 season, where nearly two months was lost to a strike.

To rekindle interest, commissioner Bowie Kuhn divided the season in two halves. The first half winner of a division played the second half winner.

Unfortunately for Orioles fans, in 1981, they finished 59-46 with the second best overall record, but finished second in the first half of the season and fourth in the second half.

As a result, the Yankees played the Milwaukee Brewers in the first round and not the Orioles.

Katz describes George Steinbrenner’s bizarre behavior in the 1981 World Series, when he claimed to be attacked by Dodgers fans in a Los Angeles hotel elevator. The best part of the 1981 season for Orioles fans? On the day second half play began, Cal Ripken made his major league debut—as a pinch runner.

MORE ORIOLES: Bats get busy as Orioles pound Tigers 9-3

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Indians' 14-hit victory hands Orioles 8th loss in 9 games

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USA TODAY Sports

Indians' 14-hit victory hands Orioles 8th loss in 9 games

BALTIMORE — The Cleveland Indians figured it would only be a matter of time before their struggling offense provided some support to a solid starting rotation.

Jose Ramirez and the rest of the batting order finally got into a groove Sunday, and the result was a 14-hit attack that carried Corey Kluber and the Indians past the Baltimore Orioles 7-3.

Cleveland came into the game with a .211 team batting average and ranked second-to-last in the AL in runs scored. On this day, however, Ramirez hit a solo shot in the fourth inning and a two-run drive in the ninth, and Yan Gomes had three hits to lift his batting average 41 points to .261.

"When things are not going my way, I stay positive and work it," Ramirez said through a translator. "I know eventually I'm going to break out."

Ramirez has three homers in two games and a team-leading seven for the season.

"I try not to do too much," Ramirez said. "I just look for a good pitch and then I hit it somewhere."

RELATED: LATEST MLB POWER RANKINGS

Kluber yielded two home runs to Manny Machado, but the Indians twice came from behind before tacking on three runs in the ninth.

"I thought we did a pretty good job," manager Terry Francona said. "When they came back, we came back at them. We kept pushing and took some better swings."

Kluber (3-1) allowed three runs and six hits over seven-plus innings. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner walked none and struck out four to move past Charles Nagy into sixth place on the Indians' career strikeout list with 1,238.

"It doesn't matter if you feel you pitched well or didn't pitch well. The goal is to end the game with more runs they do," Kluber said. "That's what we did."

Machado's third multihomer game of the season wasn't enough to prevent the Orioles from losing for the ninth time in 10 games, a skid that has dropped them 10 games under .500 (6-16).

"You know what? There's no excuse for what's happening," Machado said. "We need to play better overall. Nobody is in here pointing fingers. We are in here together, and we are going to ride or die together."

Andrew Cashner (1-3) gave up four runs and eight hits in six innings, walking two and striking out seven. He's 0-3 with 7.41 ERA in three lifetime appearances against the Indians.

After Machado connected in the first inning, Cleveland went up 2-1 in the fourth when Edwin Encarnacion and Yonder Alonso hit successive doubles following a leadoff homer by Ramirez.

Baltimore regained the lead in the bottom half. After Machado homered, Adam Jones doubled and scored on a single by Chris Davis.

A pair of walks and run-scoring singles by Francisco Lindor and Michael Brantley put the Indians up 4-3 in the fifth.

"Once you get the lead, you can't give it up," Cashner lamented.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Indians: CF Bradley Zimmer was a late scratch with a mild right ankle sprain. He was replaced by Rajai Davis.

Orioles: LF Trey Mancini missed a second straight game with a swollen right knee. ... DH Mark Trumbo (strained right quad) will begin a three-game stint with Double-A Bowie on Monday, then play three games with Triple-A Norfolk later in the week, manager Buck Showalter said. He won't be rushed to return. "It's important we get it right the first time," Showalter said.

WELL RESTED

Indians right-hander Josh Tomlin threw a side session Saturday and is expected to start Tuesday against the Cubs. Francona opted to skip Tomlin's last scheduled start Wednesday to reset the rotation after Cleveland had two straight games postponed last weekend.

UP NEXT

Indians: Carlos Carrasco (3-0, 3.48 ERA) starts the series finale Monday night. The right-hander is 9-0 with a 1.75 ERA over his past 11 starts since Aug. 27.

Orioles: RHP Kevin Gausman (1-1, 5.57) makes his fifth start of the season after allowing 27 hits -- including six homers -- over 21 innings.

RELATED: WHERE DO THE O'S FALL IN MLB STANDINGS?

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Orioles bats stay silent against Cleveland

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Orioles bats stay silent against Cleveland

BALTIMORE -- Mike Clevenger pitched a two-hitter in his first career complete game, and the Cleveland Indians hit three solo homers off Chris Tillman in a 4-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday.

Jose Ramirez went 3 for 4 with his team-leading fifth home run. Yan Gomes and Yonder Alonso also went deep for Cleveland, which came into the game ranked second-to-last in the AL in runs and last in batting average.

Clevenger (2-0) hardly needed the offensive support. Pitching on seven days' rest, the right-hander struck out three, walked two and allowed only one runner past first base.

The only two hits he allowed were singles by Manny Machado in the fourth inning and Chance Sisco in the fifth.

It was Clevenger's 35th career start. His previous longest outing was 7 1/3 innings, earlier this month against Kansas City.

While Clevenger is unbeaten in 11 starts since July 31, Tillman has experienced an opposite fate. This was his 22nd straight start without a victory, dating back to his first outing last season.

Tillman (0-4) gave up four runs, eight hits and a walk in six innings. The three home runs were one more than he yielded in his first three starts this season.

Michael Brantley hit a run-scoring groundout in the first inning and Gomes connected in the fourth for a 2-0 lead.

The Orioles put runners on the corners with one out in the fourth, their lone threat against Clevenger, who responded by retiring Tim Beckham on a short fly to left and getting Anthony Santander to ground out.

Ramirez led off the sixth with a drive to left, and Alonso hit a two-out shot that landed on Eutaw Street beyond the right-field scoreboard.