OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Stephen Drew homered and made a pair of big defensive plays to back Jarrod Parker, and the Oakland Athletics beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-2 on Saturday night. Chris Carter had a two-run double as part of a five-run third inning while Josh Reddick added two hits and an RBI for Oakland, which has won two straight over Baltimore to clinch the season series between the top two teams in the American League wild card race. The A's also pulled within two games of first-place Texas in the AL West, the closest they've been since April 13. The Rangers lost to Seattle earlier in the day. Nate McLouth homered for Baltimore, which dropped one game behind the New York Yankees in the AL East. Parker (11-8) allowed two runs and seven hits over seven innings to win back-to-back starts for the first time since mid-July. The A's rookie right-hander struck out five, walked one and retired 11 of the final 13 batters he faced. Sean Doolittle pitched a scoreless eighth and Grant Balfour worked the ninth for his 19th save. Drew, obtained in a trade from Arizona on Aug. 20, provided a spark with both his bat and glove. His home run off Baltimore starter Zach Britton was the first of four hits in the inning by Oakland in the third. It's Drew's second home run as a member of the A's and fourth overall. The A's shortstop then made the first of his two defensive gems when he threw out Adam Jones trying to score from first on Chris Davis' double in the fourth. Jones reached on a leadoff infield single and Davis followed with a double down the left field line. Jones kept running as Yoenis Cespedes retrieved the ball and threw it to Drew, who turned and made the relay throw home just in time to nab Jones as he was attempting to slide past catcher Derek Norris. Drew later ran down Endy Chavez's grounder behind second base and flipped the ball from his glove to Adam Rosales to force out Mark Reynolds. Oakland third baseman Josh Donaldson made a stellar defensive play of his own with two outs in the fifth when he caught McLouth's foul ball while leaning over the rolled-up rain tarp near the stands. The win moved the A's a season-high 23 games over .500. Oakland (84-61) has already won 10 more games than it did last year. Baltimore took an early 2-0 but couldn't make it hold up. The Orioles managed only two hits after the fourth inning and stranded a pair of baserunners in the ninth when Balfour got Chavez to ground to third for the final out. Parker got the Orioles to ground into a double play in the first but his error on a pickoff attempt in the second led to Baltimore's first run. Jones singled and was leading off the bag when Parker's throw to Carter at first base went in the dirt and rolled almost to the Orioles bullpen. Jones raced to third then scored on Reynolds' double to left. McLouth made it 2-0 with his third homer of the season that hit off the facing above the scoreboard in right field. It's only the ninth home run allowed this season by Parker. Britton (5-3) didn't allow a hit until the third when the A's scored five runs. Drew's solo home run started the outburst. After Rosales grounded out, Coco Crisp walked before Britton hit Jonny Gomes on his left elbow to put runners at first and second. Reddick and Cespedes both followed with RBI singles, and Carter doubled both men home to make it 5-2. Britton gave up five earned runs for the second consecutive start. The left-hander had four strikeouts and four walks. Notes: Baltimore has hit into five double plays in the first two games of the series. ... Rookie RHP Dan Straily (2-0) pitches for Oakland in the series finale. ... LHP Randy Wolf (2-0) makes his first start since signing with Baltimore after being released by Milwaukee in late August.
Days after being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a deal that captivated much of Major League Baseball, former Oriole Manny Machado took to Instagram to thank the only organization he's ever known.
The 26-year-old's contract expires at the end of this season, which the Orioles chose not to renew as the last-place club enters a rebuilding phase.
Machado put up big numbers in the team's first 97 games totaling career-highs in home runs (24), RBIs (65), OBP (.387) and OPS (.962).
He is expected to play shortstop for a Dodgers club which finished the first half of the season 10 games above .500 in a competitive, tight NL West.
The Dodgers will pay Machado $6.3 million.
To my Baltimore family, I’ve spent the last few days trying to figure out how I would say goodbye but there wasn’t an easy way to do it. I first joined this organization at the age of 17 and these past eight years have far exceeded anything I ever could’ve imagined. Throughout the ups and downs, you embraced me unconditionally and you took a kid from Miami and brought me up as one of your own. I’ve enjoyed my time here and you all have played a big part in that!! Thank you Birdland! You are forever in my heart! To the Baltimore Orioles, it has truly been a blessing to put on that uniform every day. To the Angelos Family & Dan Duquette, thank you for making my dreams come true!!! To Buck and the coaching staff, thank you for your commitment and dedication to making me the best player and teammate I can possibly be…I wouldn’t be where I am today without all of you. To my teammates, we’ve shared some amazing times with lots of memories & friendships that I’ll cherish forever. Schoopy, I love you bro and I know you will carry the torch!!! ! Much love always, Manny #13
So, the Orioles made some headlines earlier this week. I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but minor league pitcher Asher Wojciechowski exercised his opt-out clause and is no longer with the organization. Please keep Orioles fans in your thoughts during this trying time.
As everyone reading this is undoubtedly already aware, the Orioles *also* made a trade yesterday, sending 26-year old superstar Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers. In return for their once-in-a-lifetime talent, the Orioles received a whopping five prospects from the Dodgers’ minor league system.
Yusniel Diaz, OF, 21
It’s fitting that this trade is being compared to the Erik Bedard trade, which was also a five-for-one, because Diaz could be a poor man’s Adam Jones. He’s not the prospect Jones was, but he could end up being a really nice player.
Talent evaluators are split on his ultimate ceiling. Some describe him as a bona fide stud, and others leave him off their top 100 lists. I’ve seen him ranked as high as 31st overall (by Baseball Prospectus), which, if accurate, is a terrific main piece in a package for a star rental.
Most consider Diaz’s main flaw as a prospect to be his in-game power, though anyone watching the 2018 MLB Futures Game would be confused by that, as he became the second player ever to hit multiple home runs in the game. It’s possible that more power develops as he matures, and he certainly wouldn’t be the first player to hit for more power once reaching the Majors, but for now, it’s not a strength. I wouldn’t expect him to top 20 home runs in most seasons.
His bat-to-ball ability is his clearest strength, as he projects to consistently hit for a high average. His batting eye, while formerly a weakness, has become a strength in 2018, as he’s actually walked more times than he’s struck out (a rarity in this day and age). That will play well with O’s fans who are tired of seeing their players challenge strikeout records.
Dean Kremer, RHP, 22
Kremer isn’t a major name, which is a disappointment for O’s fans and one of the reasons their haul felt so uninspiring. Compared to more highly-touted prospects like Dustin May, Kremer looks like the team settled.
That said, he’s currently sporting the best K/9 ratio in the minors, and could end up being a diamond in the rough. He’s come a long way since being a 14th-round pick two years ago, and you have to wonder if the Orioles’ much-maligned pitching development can pick up where the much more successful Dodgers instructors left off.
Kremer is also notable for being the first Israeli-born player ever drafted in Major League Baseball.
Rylan Bannon, IF, 22
Bannon was an 8th-rounder last year and is having somewhat of a breakout this season. He’s leading the league in home runs, though playing in a notorious band box of a home park is skewing those numbers.
Bannon is undersized, but has a reputation of a good, if not elite, fielder. He’s a third baseman, but will likely spend some time at second as well. If the power breakout is real, he could end up a solid starter for the Orioles down the road. Again, that’s about all you can hope for in trades of this nature.
Zach Pop, RHP, 21
Pop has been described as potentially a future “right-handed Zach Britton,” which every O’s fan would take in a heartbeat. Of course, he’s not ranked like a future All-Star, as even in the weaker Orioles farm system he’s likely no better than around 25th.
Still, the filler players in big trades like this are just lottery tickets, and considering his lack of pedigree, Pop seems like a relatively “safe” pitcher with projectability. He strikes out a lot of batters and gets a lot of ground balls, and at the very least can likely become a decent middle reliever.
Breyvic Valera, IF, 26
In a best-case scenario, Valera becomes the Orioles’ Ryan Flaherty replacement. If you squint, you can see somewhat decent upside in each of the other returning players, even despite their modest prospect rankings, but Valera is a clear utility player.
He gets on base and hits for contact well enough to stick around and has proven capable of defending multiple positions, so there actually might be a spot for him at the end of the Orioles bench.
This trade has been described as anywhere from adequate and somewhat deflating to a great haul O’s fans should be excited about. Four of the five players have decent ceilings, though the chance of all four (or even just two of them) reaching those ceilings is highly unlikely. It’s just the nature of baseball.
Ultimately, this trade will be judged on the success or failure of Yusniel Diaz, who is the clear centerpiece of the package. Whether or not he succeeds will be partially up to him, and partially up to the front office and player development team.
If this trade is the beginning of the core for the next competitive Orioles team, then it’ll have to be considered a success. If these players each bust out of the league, then it was still the correct decision to trade Machado instead of settling for draft pick compensation, but it will still sting all the more for O’s fans seeing Manny soar to new heights elsewhere.