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Five moves that helped make the Orioles season

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Five moves that helped make the Orioles season

Many excellent decisions helped make the 2012 season special for the Orioles.

Here are five of the most important:

1) Moving Nick Markakis into the leadoff spot

The Orioles struggled when Markakis missed six weeks with a broken hamate bone. It was the first time in Markakis’ career that he was on the disabled list.

When he returned after the All-Star break, the Orioles were floundering, and manager Buck Showalter decided to move Markakis from third in the order to leadoff.

With Markakis batting leadoff, the Orioles went 33-21 and became solid contenders. After his season was ended by a CC Sabathia fastball on Sept. 8, the Orioles finished out the regular season strongly, but his bat was missed in the Division Series loss against the Yankees, something that Showalter pointed out on Saturday.

2) Signing Adam Jones to a long-term contract extension

Jones was set to be a free agent this off-season, and there was talk before the season that the Orioles might deal him at the trade deadline if the team started poorly.

Even though Jones denied there was talk, a five-year, $85.5 million contract was agreed on in late May.

It stopped his future from being bandied about, rewarded him for his solid performance and showed the fan base that the team would spend money.

It also elicited this memorable line from Dan Duquette, the team’s executive vice president for baseball operations: “The dude rang the cash register every time he hit a home run.”

3) Picking Darren O’Day over Zach Phillips

During spring training, Darren O’Day pitched very little. He had a groin injury and most observers thought O’Day was headed to Norfolk. Zach Phillips, who pitched very well in spring training, looked to be the second lefty in the bullpen.

Showalter decided not to add a second left-hander and kept O’Day along with Troy Patton as his lefty.

O’Day was outstanding, going 7-1 with a 2.28 ERA and pitched five hitless innings in the Yankees series.

Phillips was unimpressive in his brief trials with the Orioles and was off the 40-man roster for a time. Surprisingly, he wasn’t claimed, but his future with the Orioles doesn’t look promising.

4) Moving Mark Reynolds to first base

Reynolds was terrible at third base in 2011 and played somewhat better at first in the last several weeks of the season. He told Showalter he wanted another crack at third, but after committing six errors in 15 games at third, the Orioles moved him to first.

Initially, Reynolds didn’t look much better at first than at third, but he worked diligently and became an acceptable first baseman. In the season’s final weeks, he became an excellent first baseman.

For much of the season, it was a sure thing that Reynolds would be elsewhere next season. Now, his $11 million option for next season doesn’t look outrageous.

The Orioles may seek to negotiate a lower base contract with perhaps an added year or two. There aren’t a lot of quality first basemen available in the free agent market, and there’s not a good alternative in their system.

5) Bringing up Manny Machado to play third base

Machado was playing shortstop for Bowie and discreetly taking ground balls at third until Aug. 8. The Orioles, tired of seeing Wilson Betemit butcher third base, called for Machado.

The 20-year old was an immediate hit, both at-bat and in the field. He won the AL Player of the Week after four games and played brilliantly at third.

Showalter knew the Orioles couldn’t win with the defense they were presenting, and along with Machado’s promotion, they brought Nate McLouth in to play left field.

The defensive improvement was marked. For much of the season, they led the majors in errors. They ended up 10th with 107 errors, a big step forward.

HONORABLE MENTION

-Converting Brian Matusz from a struggling starter to left-handed relief specialist.

-Signing Miguel Gonzalez from the Mexican League and putting him in the rotation

-Being patient with Chris Tillman and having him live up to his potential.

-Signing McLouth to a minor league deal and batting him leadoff after Markakis was hurt

-Late August trade for Joe Saunders

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Orioles' Adam Jones purchases Cal Ripken Jr.'s former estate, per report

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Orioles' Adam Jones purchases Cal Ripken Jr.'s former estate, per report

Cal Ripken Jr.'s 25-acre, 8,545 square-foot home went up for auction this past Saturday and the highest bidder was......Adam Jones? 

The center fielder is purchasing the Orioles legend's former Reisterstown, Md. estate, according to The Athletic

Placed on the market in 2016 for $12.5 million, Ripken reduced the price to $9.7 million last year but was still unable to find a willing buyer. The estate was eventually put up for auction and sold to Jones for an undisclosed amount. 

The six bedroom home has 10 full bathrooms, a movie theater, a gym that overlooks an indoor basketball court, a pool and a baseball field with batting cages, a locker room and soaking tubs. One of the tubs was taken from Memorial Stadium and used by Johnny Unitas and Art Donovan, but Ripken is keeping that one. 

What makes this purchase even more interesting is that Jones will become a free agent at the end of the 2018 season, but that does not mean he plans on re-signing with the team. The 32-year old, who is in his last year of a six-year $85.5 million contract, is known to dip his toes in real estate investments and his wife, Audie Fugett, is a Baltimore native. 

The deal is scheduled to close on June 11. 

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David Price's complete game shuts down Baltimore's offense

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David Price's complete game shuts down Baltimore's offense

BOSTON -- One strike away from a four-hit shutout, David Price happily settled for a complete game and his strongest outing of the season.

Price struck out eight and held Baltimore to five hits, including two in the ninth when the Orioles broke up the shutout before the Boston left-hander finished them off in a 6-2 victory for the Red Sox on Thursday night.

"He was amazing," Boston manager Alex Cora said. "He was outstanding. You saw it. Bad swings, up, down, in and out, changeup, cutter, sinkers ... that was fun to watch."

J.D. Martinez hit a two-run homer in the first, and Xander Bogaerts homered with two on during a four-run fifth, giving Price more than enough cushion against the struggling Orioles.

Price (4-4) struck out eight and didn't walk a batter while winning consecutive starts for the first time this season. He cruised through the first eight innings before Andrew Susac led off the ninth with a double, the first Baltimore player to reach second base in the game.

Manny Machado spoiled the shutout bid with a two-out homer, but Price finished off Baltimore on Jonathan Schoop's pop-up to center as the Red Sox improved to 4-0 against Baltimore by taking the makeup game that was rained out on Patriots' Day.

"They're a free-swinging team," said Price, who threw just 95 pitches. "You can go out there and do that or you can go out there for three innings and give up a bunch of runs."

Danny Valencia had a pair of hits for the punchless Orioles, who have lost three of four and have the second-fewest wins in the American League. Valencia nearly had a double in the fifth, but got thrown out at second by left fielder Andrew Benintendi, one of several strong defensive plays that helped Price go the distance.

Hanley Ramirez also caught a foul pop on the top step of Boston's dugout in the second and Mookie Betts ran down a fly ball that was headed to the wall in right.

"The defensive plays that I had today, it makes everything a lot easier," Price said.

Kevin Gausman (3-3) went 4 2/3 innings for Baltimore, allowing six runs and eight hits while striking out six and walking two. He was pulled after Bogaerts drove a high fastball out to left with two men on during Boston's four-run fifth.

"We just got into some sticky situations where we just had to dig ourselves out of a hole and we just couldn't," Susac said.

The Orioles also weren't happy with the strike zone, which Susac said forced Gausman to throw some pitches the Red Sox pounced upon.

Manager Buck Showalter agreed with his catcher.

"I'm very biased, but I didn't think he got a fair shake tonight," Showalter said. "There were a lot of pitches that could have and should have gone his way."

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