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Five reasons for Orioles fans to be thankful in 2012

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Five reasons for Orioles fans to be thankful in 2012

A year ago, Orioles fans never dreamed they’d be in this position on Thanksgiving Day. A playoff team with lots of young talent and more on the way, it’s time to give thanks for the past year.

Here are the five things Orioles fans should be thankful for:

1) Adam Jones re-signing

It’s hard for a lot of fans to remember, but at this time last year, the Orioles were fielding trade offers for Jones. He was entering his walk year, but after the team got off to a surprisingly strong start, Jones and the Orioles negotiated a five-year contract extension.

If the Orioles hadn’t started well, they might have looked to move Jones at the trade deadline or attempted to sign him now with lots of competition.

The free agent market isn’t especially attractive this year and Jones would have been one of the top five players on the market. Instead, he’s bound to Baltimore until 2017.

2) Manny Machado

Putting Machado at third base in early August helped save the season for the Orioles. Manager Buck Showalter knew that the team couldn’t survive the final third of the season with weak defense at third.

Wilson Betemit, who moved off third when Machado arrived, was wearing down. Because of injuries, he hardly played in the season’s final two months.

Machado, who hadn’t played third in the minors, made a seamless transition and his hitting was surprisingly robust. His future is bright and so is the Orioles’.

3) Chris Davis
Derided as a fringe major league player when he was acquired from Texas in July 2011, Davis proved last season that he was indeed a legitimate major league hitter. 

He led the team with 33 home runs, hit three in a game, and provided the single most entertaining and uplifting performance of the season.

Davis pitched the 16th and 17th innings against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in May. After he had gone 0-for-8 with five strikeouts and a double play, Davis got the win, and was the catalyst for the team’s miracle season.

4) Buck Showalter

Showalter, who narrowly missed being voted the American League’s Manager of the Year, has become one of the most compelling figures in recent Baltimore sports history.

He had perhaps his best year as a manager with a team that won 16 consecutive extra-inning games and a phenomenal 29-9 record in one-run games.

Showalter successfully transitioned Machado to third base, Mark Reynolds to first base and Nick Markakis to leadoff. All those moves were essential to the Orioles’ success, and none of them was conventional.

5) Oriole Park

In its 20th anniversary season, the park looked better than ever. The addition of a new party deck in center field enhanced its attractiveness and the addition of six statues to honor Orioles greats was a classy and yet understated move.

Fans were late to recognize the staying power of the Orioles, but in the season’s last month, the park was as loud and more welcoming to its home team than ever.

“You’re going to see something you’ve never seen before,” I told one Oriole a few hours before a Yankees-Orioles game in September. “More Orioles fans than Yankees fans?” he replied.

Both the Orioles and their fans delivered.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

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Trumbo homers twice, drives in 5 as Orioles beat Rangers 9-6

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Trumbo homers twice, drives in 5 as Orioles beat Rangers 9-6

 Mark Trumbo could have looked around the diamond at his Orioles teammates and wondered, "Who are these guys?"

With veterans Adam Jones and Chris Davis out of the starting lineup, Trumbo alone represented experience on a young, struggling team.

The slugger homered twice and drove in five runs, and Baltimore beat the Texas Rangers 9-6 in a back-and-forth game Sunday to avoid a four-game sweep.

"There's a few of us guys that have been around a little longer than most," Trumbo said. "The production comes and goes, but the mindset is the big thing, and I think these guys are doing a good job."

Entering the series, Trumbo hadn't gone deep since July 9. He completed the four games 7 for 16 with three homers and nine RBIs as Baltimore totaled 21 runs.

Austin Wynns and Jonathan Villar also homered for the Orioles.

Trumbo singled home a run in the first inning. His two-run homer in the third put Baltimore ahead to stay at 6-5 against starter Drew Hutchison (1-2), who was making his Rangers debut.

"Just pitch execution, poor command, too many balls up in the zone," Hutchison said. "When you do things like that, those are the results that you're going to have."

Both of Trumbo's homers came with two strikes.

"I've been getting to two strikes a lot lately and still getting some hits," he said. "I hit a changeup (from Hutchison), and I put some good wood on it."

The teams had scored in every half-inning before that, with the lead changing hands in four of those.

Trumbo left the game after his two-run homer against Matt Moore in the seventh.

"(Trumbo) almost didn't play today," Orioles manager Buck Showalter. "His knee's been a little sore. I noticed running around the bases on the second home run."

Another difference was Baltimore's beleaguered bullpen, which allowed only one run and one hit in 7 1/3 innings.

Tanner Scott (2-2), the second of six Orioles pitchers, shut out Texas for 2 1/3 innings, which tied his longest major league outing. He relieved starter Yefry Ramirez with the bases loaded and two outs in the second and struck out Ronald Guzman.

Mychal Givens retired the final four batters for his second save.

Jace Peterson led off the game with a single and scored on Trumbo's single for a short-lived 1-0 lead.

Ramirez retired the first two Rangers hitters but gave up a triple to Elvis Andrus. After two walks loaded the bases, Robinson Chirinos singled home two runs.

The Orioles regained the lead at 4-2 in the second on a three-run homer by Wynns, the No. 9 batter.

The Rangers scored three runs in the bottom half on Shin-Soo Choo's sacrifice fly, Andrus' groundout and a broken-bat single by Joey Gallo for a 5-4 advantage.

Gallo and Rougned Odor homered in each of the first three games of the series, but their streaks were stopped on Sunday.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Orioles: Davis didn't play for a second straight game. Showalter said, "He's banged up a little bit. We're going to give him the benefit of another day and the off day Monday." ... Showalter said it's likely that OF Craig Gentry, who has missed six weeks because of a fractured rib, will begin a rehab assignment Tuesday at Double-A Bowie. ... INF Steve Wilkerson (strained left oblique), who hasn't played since July 1, could go on a rehab assignment Thursday.

UP AND DOWN AGAIN

To make room for Hutchison on the roster, the Rangers optioned RHP Austin Bibens-Dirkx to Triple-A Round Rock for the third time this season.

JUST KEEP HITTING

Andrus extended his hitting streak to 16 games, equaling a career best. It's also the longest current run in the majors.

UP NEXT

Orioles: Begin a three-game series at Tampa Bay on Tuesday. Alex Cobb (3-14, 5.83 ERA) will start against Rays newcomer Tyler Glasnow (1-2, 4.27).

Rangers: LHP Martin Perez (2-4, 6.50) pitches Monday as Texas hosts Seattle and LHP Wade LeBlanc (6-2, 3.95) to begin a three-game series.

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Adam Jones helps Little League team with $8.5K donation

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Adam Jones helps Little League team with $8.5K donation

Adam Jones continues to be one of baseball's Good Dudes. 

Jones, who's been recognized before for his philanthropic efforts around Baltimore, made headlines recently when he donated $8.5 thousand dollars to the Mamie Johnson Little League team. 

Mamie Johnson are headed to the Mid-Atlantic Finals of the Little League World Series qualifying tournament but needed $10k in travel assistance to get there. That's where Jones, who orginally learned of the team on Twitter, stepped in: 

When asked about his donation, Jones said, "I want to see the next generation get an opportunity to succeed. Me being a black man trying to integrate more African-Americans into baseball, this was a no-brainer.''

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